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.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock

Are you taking the Dry January challenge and not having any alcohol for the month? Or, maybe you plan to drink less (but not nothing), which makes it Damp January. Or, maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. (If so, there’s still time to start!)

Well, nothing much has changed from our approach to Dry January last year, except the one who had started drinking more last year is continuing the trend …



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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK , started Dry January , where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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It’s January, and everyone’s probably tired of reading about New Year’s resolutions.

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Not me. Since I never make them, I never feel the need to read about them.

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Of course, you don’t. So, what should we write about?

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How about that we celebrate some of our favorite things in January?

So many “National Days” in January are fun (we’ve written about them over the years) and remind us of some of our favorite things. (Can you pick which are Red’s favorite holidays and which are Black’s?) And whether or not you make resolutions, it’s always important to have a sense of humor and enjoy the simpler things in life …

Answer: Red’s favorites are Bagels, Popcorn, and Hugging. Black’s are Clean Desk, Bagels, and Backward.

Wishing you Happy 2024 – with new beginnings and much more!