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In My Eyes: Living in the world of Big C

By Edward B. Antonio

My cousin Myleen died of breast cancer two years ago. She was a pretty mother of two and a budding entrepreneur. She was doing well in her business career when she was diagnosed of the Big C.

Our sorrow knew no bounds when she lost the battle.

Shortly before she died, she exclaimed: “Your long wait is about to be over, father. I am joining your company shortly!”

His father (my uncle Emilio) died 6 months earlier of prostate cancer.

Cancer is such a traitor disease it only gets noticed once it has overwhelmed its host body.

Young and pretty regional supervisor Madam Evelyn was diagnosed with a cancer lump above his left lung. She neither smoked nor drank liquor.

To be sure the lump won’t spread, she had half of her left lung removed. All seemed to be well in the following months and all we thought she had conquered the disease.

But one day, we were shocked to learn she already died — of lung cancer.

The cancer cells had already implanted themselves in his right lung long before the operation on her left lung.

Madam Evelyn was one of a kind—humble, accommodating, helpful, courteous and always had a smiling face for everyone.

We miss her that much.

There are a thousand and one stories on how people lost their cancer battle, fellas. There are also a thousand and one stories of triumph versus the Big C and they live to tell their stories.

But we, who are still alive, can only learn from their stories; however, we can always take the necessary preventive measures, that is, if we are aware of the probable causes:

1. Carcinogens

a. Smoking causes up to 30 percent of cancer deaths. Smoking is associated with cancer in the lungs, esophagus, respiratory tract, bladder, pancreas, and probably cancers of the stomach, liver, and kidneys.

b. Diet can also contribute to cancer. Saturated fats from red meats, such as hamburger or steak, and high-fat dairy products are linked with several cancers. High salt intake increases the risk of stomach cancer. Adult obesity increases the risk for cancer of the uterus in women and also appears to increase the risk for cancers in the breast, colon, kidney, and gallbladder. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus and stomach, especially when combined with smoking.

c. Certain viruses — Cancer-causing viruses include the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus responsible for 70 to 80 percent of all cases of cancer of the cervix. Hepatitis B and C viruses cause almost 80 percent of all liver cancer in the world. Epstein-Barr virus can also be carcinogenic, causing cancer of the lymphatic system. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or a type of herpesvirus can lead to rare cancers of the lymphatic and circulatory systems.

d. Radiation–Exposure to electromagnetic radiation, invisible, high-energy light waves such as sunlight and X rays, accounts for a small percentage of cancer deaths. Most cancer deaths from radiation are from skin cancer, which is triggered by too much sun exposure.

Sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface contains two kinds of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV-A and UV-B both contribute to sunburn and skin cancer as well as to conditions such as premature wrinkling of the skin.

e. Environmental chemicals — Air pollution, water pollution, and pollutants in the soil contribute particularly to lung and bladder cancer. Lung cancer rates are generally higher in cities, where increased industry and automobile traffic produce air pollution. Some people encounter carcinogenic chemicals in their working environment. Occupational carcinogens include such industrial chemicals as benzene, asbestos, vinyl chloride, aniline dyes, arsenic, and certain petroleum products.

2. Hereditary — Cancer can be inherited. Some gene mutations associated with cancer are inherited. For example, inheriting mutated tumor suppressor genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 greatly increases a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. About 50 to 60 percent of women with inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations will develop breast cancer by the age of 70. Inherited mutations in the genes MSH2, MLH1, PMS1, and PMS2, all of which repair DNA, are especially prevalent in a rare form of hereditary colon cancer.

3. Steroid hormones — Medical research suggests that cancers of the reproductive organs may be affected by naturally occurring steroid hormones produced by the endocrine system. These hormones stimulate reproductive organ cells to divide and grow. In women, relatively high or long exposure to the female sex hormone estrogen seems to increase the risk of breast and uterine cancers.

Research shows there are more than 100 types of cancer that might afflict the human body, fellas.

Suggestions such as eating vegetables more than meat, no-smoking habit, regular exercise, protecting the skin from the sun’s rays, safe sex, screening and early detection and of course, living in a clean, stress-free environment are big preventive measures.

Without the Big C, we’ll probably die of natural death, fellas

But even that is something we fear.

And that would be another topic to write about next time.#

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