Cycling to Spread Awareness for Cancer Prevention
I rode against the wind north to Hiller Park through the Arcata bottoms with my good friend Tera this morning. Ran into a friend who told us he just celebrated twenty years of being cancer free. Testicular cancer. The more I share my story, the more I learn, am encouraged and inspired.
I took time today to reflect on my upcoming ride, it’s significance for myself, my family, and a broader community. My story is simply the story of one woman, one family, facing a life threatening illness. It is a form of suffering. Spiritual teacher, Pema Chodron reminds us that all of our suffering is part of a collective suffering of the world’s suffering. When I read about other mothers and children dying of starvation, lack of sanitation, conditions in inner cities, rural areas, war ravaged villages and refugee camps, my suffering seems so small. I am educated, of supreme health (minus cancer), living comfortably with medicine, incredible doctors, comforts of a family and home, a huge community of support, a nice road bike. My suffering seem so tolerable.
The upcoming KickingMyCancer ride is first and foremost for myself — I am treating myself to an epic adventure to build strength and face chemotherapy head on. I feel like if I cower from it and fear the treatments that I will not fare as well. Bring it on. Rid my body of cancer please. Thank you. How fortunate I am for the “elixir”.
But also, more and more, this ride is about BUILDING AWARENESS about cancer and “kicking cancer” collectively.
OK here goes….In an affort to not sound preachy, but I am feeling the need to just say it.
The key to kicking cancer as individuals and a society is awareness, detection and prevention. We are fortunate to be living in a time with cancer screening capabilities. All women over forty should be getting yearly mammograms (some say 50 now, but I am sticking with forty(!), if high risk, more frequently–find out if you are high risk). Women over twenty (to 65) need to have regular pap tests and pelvic exams. MEN! You need screening for prostate and colon cancer beginning at fifty or sooner (40-45) if high risk (family history, African American). There are many more types of cancer, including skin, lung, esophageal, brain…sadly the list goes on. Become aware and vigilant about your own health. No one else will do it for you. Spread the word.
Tips to reducing your risks and hopefully preventing cancer include:
1. Improved diet (Mostly plant based diet with a lot of leafy greens. Limit intake of sugar, processed foods, and high-fat foods). Not only will you reduce your risk of developing cancer, but you will feel great and easily lose unwanted pounds. Check out the Paleo Diet–I love it.
2. Exercise and stress reduction (walk, yoga, t’ai chi, qigong, cycle, swim, sports…something daily!)
3. The obvious ones….smoking, alcohol, and sun exposure.
Alas, there are many other reasons and causes for cancer, but doing as much as possible to live a healthful life is something that is within our power right now and every day.
If you have trouble improving your diet, reducing your stress, making exercise a priority for YOURSELF….then do it for your CHILDREN. We are role models and we need to model right livelihood. Monkey see, monkey do.