I have a confession to make. I am a born-again. Not of the
newly-baptised-bible-toting-heathen-converting type. As of today I am a
born-again anti-cancer preacher because today marks five years since I was
diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
Now, if you think a cancer diagnosis doesn't really give me the right to go
around preaching to people about how they can avoid this terrible disease,
you're probably right. But what if I was a survivor of two bouts of cancer?
Would that be enough?
Well, on Sunday (yes, just three days later) I will joyfully celebrate with
family and friends another important milestone: 30 years since my first
diagnosis as a kid with bone cancer. I've lost a leg, an oesophagus and
most of my stomach to cancer. Two times cancer means I get to preach so
Until today I've kept my born-again tendancies mostly to family and close
friends. For five years now they have indulged my zealous campaign against
cancer-causing agents (proven, suspected, yet-to-be-tested and imaginary).
My wife no longer uses the microwave, never burns candles or incense in our
house or sprays anything into the air. She cleans with vinegar and bi-carb,
spends a lot of time checking food labels, cooks with no salt at all and
tends an organic veggie garden in our backyard.
I know, she is a saint to put up with me but the upside is that we all -
including our two small children - eat better and live healthier than we
would have had I been cancer-free. I have also "saved" one soul who would
probably be coughing up a lung somewhere if I hadn't threatened to sever
all contact if she didn't give up the fags. Tough love.
This week I'm feeling pretty good about making it this far but I feel it's
time to launch the born-again anti-cancer preacher on a wider audience.
Finding a cure for cancer is vital and I personally owe a debt of gratitude
to the scientists and doctors out there looking for cures and searching for
better treatments. There is no doubt they saved my life. Keep giving them
money because we need a cure.
However, I believe we are all investing too much faith in the scientific
and medical professions instead of looking after our own
bodies.Prevention is the best cure. We all know it. We need to
live it. It's a fact that the incidence of cancer WILL decline if we live
Lose weight. Obesity is a risk factor for many cancers and lots of other
diseases too. Eat less and you'll live longer.
Eat better. Choose good, healthy, fresh food and try to stay away from
processed food. Eat better and you'll live better.
Don't smoke. I go to a lot of cancer fundraisers and it gives me the
tom-tits to see people digging into their pockets to donate one minute and
slipping outside for a fag the next. Are they for real? It takes all my
willpower (and a healthy dose of passive-smoke-fear) to stop myself hitting
them with a fire extinguisher (the foam part... although the extinguisher
itself would be more effective).
Cut down on salt. This one gets people quite worked up for some reason.
Believe me, in six weeks you won't miss it! A little salt is good but you
get all you need from the salt naturally occurring in fresh food anyway.
Read food labels (it's listed as sodium), throw the salt shaker out and cut
down on processed food. Oh and check out your cereal. You'll be surprised
how much salt you're eating for breakfast.
Exercise. Half an hour every day. Walk to work. Walk the kids to school.
Ride a bike instead of driving the car. Swim. Do something. Every day.
Come on people. It's not rocket science. We all know what to do. Hell, what
do you have to lose? If you live a healthy life and still get cancer well
that's just really bad luck. Welcome to my club.
At the very least, living a healthier life may increase your chances of
survival if you do get cancer. But what if it meant you could
avoid cancer altogether? Maybe all this healthy living will ward off heart
disease or diabetes or any number of other scary things that can kill you.
And, even if you do die an early death, at least you'll feel
better in the meantime. That's a good thing right?
And please, even if you can't give up the fags, at least abstain when
you're attending the next cancer fundraiser. You may avoid a fire
extinguisher in the back of the head.