Cancer touches the lives of many families. How often do you hear someone share a story about a friend, a relative or an acquaintance that was recently diagnosed? Sadly, a lot. 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone.
In 2009, my dad was one of those statistics. At only 55 years old, my dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Over the next year and a half, I spent every spare moment in hospital rooms, cancer centers and doctor’s offices at my dad’s side. At the time, I was a senior in college balancing a rigorous course load while attempting to maintain some semblance of a normal life.
His battle with cancer was truly an inspiration. He fought with every fiber of his being to meet his goal to see his only daughter graduate from college. He went to work every day despite having treatments in the morning and barely having the strength to walk. He inspired me to prevent cancer so that no one else would have to experience what he did—what we all did. He encouraged me to take something positive out of his horrible experience to find a way to help others. When delivering his eulogy, I made a commitment to devote my life to cancer prevention and early detection.
So, I prevent cancer for you, in memory of my dad. I think of his fight whenever I feel too tired to exercise or take a bite of broccoli (for the record, I despise broccoli, but it is good for you). I am fortunate to go to work every day knowing that the researchers that the Prevent Cancer Foundation funds are discovering innovative ways to prevent cancer or detect it early, when the chances for survival are greater. I see how our programs educate communities across the country on screening and early detection, encouraging people to take action.
Cancer prevention doesn’t just come out of research and programs; it starts with you. I’d like to share just a few ways that I encourage my friends and family to reduce their risk for cancer:
- Be physically active for 30 or more minutes most days.
- Eat lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Wear sunscreen daily.
- Get screened.