Words & Banter

Cancer Prevention. Not Just Words – A Mindset!

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I know that cancer isn’t the “death sentence” it used to be when we were growing up, but it’s still a very scary word. Especially if it’s heard “close to home”.


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When we were young, the word was rarely said. And if it was, it was whispered or referred to as the “c-word.”


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Kind of like when I had my two miscarriages. No one wanted even to acknowledge, let alone talk about, them. Which made it all the more difficult to get through it, although intellectually, I knew it was not uncommon.


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Unfortunately, neither is cancer. It is the second-leading cause of death in the world, surpassed only by heart disease. But, at least, it is no longer a taboo subject.


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Please don’t make this about numbers. It’s about people. Which you should know. I’m sure you remember when Daddy was diagnosed with parotid gland cancer, which luckily was treatable. And I’ve had skin cancer, although I was very fortunate, it was caught early and easily treated.


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OK, I will not quote statistics, but it is important to realize that although cancer affects many people, that is all the more reason to try and prevent it. Or, catch it early.

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Very early. I’m not sure I ever told you this, but when I had squamous cell carcinoma confirmed on my nose, it wasn’t because of an annual body screening. It was because I just thought something wasn’t right, even though I had gone to my family doctor and was told it wasn’t anything to worry about.

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I thought you were always extremely conscientious about your annual cancer screenings, whether mammograms, Pap smears, or body checks.

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The first two, absolutely, ever since I was in my 30s. But it was only when I went to a dermatologist to check my nose that I realized the importance of having full body screenings, too. Especially since redheads are more susceptible to skin cancer. So, yes, now I go on an annual basis, although it was on a six-month basis for several years after I had to have Mohs surgery.

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Well, having routine cancer screenings, whether due to standard recommendations, because you think something is not right (after all, who knows your body better than you), or due to family history, has contributed to a decrease in cancer mortality rates. But, you do not want me to talk about numbers.

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I don’t, but that’s great news! It just shows you how important it is to be proactive.

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Exactly. And, as we learn more about cancer, we can adjust our lifestyles to lower the risk of getting cancer. For example, think of all the people who quit smoking to lower the risk of lung cancer. Of course, advances in medical treatment have made a huge difference. And, given my involvement with Make-A-Wish, I have watched with pure joy how the cancer death rate among kids and teens has dropped dramatically.

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Wow, I had no idea! That really makes you stop and think, and makes me think about the cancer stories in movies and TV shows. And before you roll your eyes, and tell me my theater degree’s showing, it does make a difference when a subject like cancer is reflected in storylines. It lets audiences understand it on both an intellectual and emotional level. Which is very powerful.

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It is. When you think of the movie “Love Story,” unless you read the book, you did not know that Ali McGraw’s character had leukemia. But, around the same time, there was a “made for TV” pseudo-documentary/movie, “Brian’s Song,” which is the first movie I can remember that talked about cancer. It made it an acceptable topic of discussion.

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I’m impressed you remember those movies. There’ve been so many since then, not to mention celebrities who tell their cancer stories. But cancer being in the mainstream makes it so much easier to discuss. Not just as a society but personally, as I’ve taken advantage of those opportunities to talk with the girls about the importance of early detection, something Mommy never did with me.

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It was a very different time. Cancer was a “bad” word and potentially a “death” sentence. Today, the future is brighter, but it needs to be part of routine conversations.
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What do you get when you cross Flag Day (June 14) with June being Effective Communication Month? Well, if you include Black in the mix, you get one of Red’s favorite memories … and a unique way to think about the importance of communicating – whether in your personal or professional life. And especially if you’re in a racecar!


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This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4 th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.


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Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


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I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.


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If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory . Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.


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I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
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There’s much debate about the role America should play in world politics and standing by our allies, and we can’t help but wonder … how many people look at history before forming their opinions? Which is why we feel so strongly about remembering D-Day (and are rerunning the post below), which is about so much more than just a day …


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I still can’t believe you didn’t know what D-Day was.


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All I knew was it had to do with World War II and beaches. And, required lots of strategic planning. Remember, I am not a history buff like you.


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Or a movie buff. There has been an assortment of D-Day movies, and I wouldn’t expect you to have watched the older movies, like “ The Longest Day” with John Wayne, but I figured you’d have seen “ Saving Private Ryan .”


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The Tom Hanks movie? It was a great war movie, but from what I remember, it was about the search for a particular soldier during WWII. Although I remember the opening scene showed the horrors of war. Regardless, I do not get my “history” from movies that might take literary license for the sake of storytelling, even if Steven Spielberg’s movies are mostly accurate.


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That opening scene WAS D-Day.
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Some memories fade with time, but others remain as vivid as the day they happened. Like the day my big sister and I played golf together (an extremely rare event), although the memory isn’t about golf, but about how a sister’s flippant comment can stay with you for over 40 years …

There was no way to know it would become a highly effective way of remembering the importance of sunscreen. Especially as it happened before May was declared Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and May 27 became National Sunscreen Day.

I'll never forget the day. It was an "almost" ordinary day out on the golf course with my mom and dad during the heat of a Long Island summer. Now, if "Long Island" conjures up images of stately manors on the North Shore (think "Great Gatsby") or beachfront mansions in the Hamptons (think Robin Leach and his popular show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"), you can put those out of your head. I'm not talking about some fancy country club golf course, just a regular public course.

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