Getting To Know Your Cancer

Happy Saturday To You All

In continuation from last week's piece, this and the next two weeks will be devoted to the delicate subject of cancer.  As my own father currently is in the fight of his life (and doing a gallant job of it), I felt it was pertinent to pop this insidious condition under the microscope for a few weeks in the aim to dispel much of the myth and mystery for other diagnosed persons and their support crew.

Last week I opened this series with a piece around the type of support that really helps a person who has received a cancer diagnosis, and in response to that blog, I received a few responses in addition to my suggestions - and overwhelmingly they were weighted towards specialists in that early diagnostic position equipping patients with more information around the impact of their diagnoses.  In answer to that, some hospitals do have pamphlets and brochures designed to help deliver these messages, so if your local hospital or centre does not, contact one who does and request it to be reproduced.

Now for this week's topic - Getting To Know Your Cancer

There are a number of reasons why cancer occurs in the body and contrary to popular beliefs and theories in the community - very few if any of them stand alone as a singular trigger.  Sure there are direct factors such as smoking which predispose a person to an increased risk, but certain factors need to be present in order for the body to actually react to that trigger and create the mutation that cancer cells undergo.

I have found that as fear is a common and strong response to being diagnosed with cancer, the most effective way to manage that response is to seek to understand your condition and the factors that lead up to it as much as you can in terminology that makes sense to you.  For example a benign (non malginant) tumour such as a fatty accumulation in a lipoma is not considered a danger to your health - in fact benign tumours are commonly known as 'omas'.  A malignant or dangerous tumour are commonly known as 'carcinoma' or 'sarcoma'.  Depending on how your genetics, immune system and toxin management has been over years leading up to the diagnosis - your body will or will not present with mutated cells and therefore malignant cancer.  It is thought that most of us at some time will hav e a cancer cell mutation in our lifetime, but not everyone will go on to develop life threatening tumours.

One concern I have with the current status of understanding in the community is the overwhelming barage of information out there on what does and doesn't increase your risk factors for this disease - and that is a problem. Research has shown that apathy has crept in over the years equating to a large majority of the population still doing nothing in favour of addressing their high risk lifestyle due to the confusion of media influenced findings on what does and doesn't cause cancer. Bascically the general impression is that everything seems to cause cancer, so we may as well eat and do what we want until they find the ONE thing that does.  Just a tip - cancer doesn't operate that way - it isn't that simple.

Every cancer cell has a number of common factors to each other regardless of where they begin or end and every cancer cell depending on its primary site - have distinct differences. Understanding your genetic risk factors and testing for those as well as the nature of the cells affected by this disease is where your lifestyle can really support longevity and increased survival rates.

In short, common to all cancer cells are problems with DNA replication and genetic signals, inflammatory management problems, oxidative stress, insulin resistance and mitochondrial activity issues.  All mutated cells undergo problems with all or most of these issues.  The differences between some cancer cells however are that certain tissues will have an adverse response to specific elements such as breast cancer cells and oestrogen.

Getting to know your cancer means having an understanding on the generic factors PLUS your specific risk factors, and then putting a program together that minimises the impact of what lead up to that in the first place, and improving your body's response to adverse changes (DNA signalling).  One of my patient also goes so far as to name her primary site which has helped her deal with the impact of diagnosis and reduce it's fear power of her.

Remember - knowledge can be both empowering and disempowering depending on the context it is delivered and used.  Seek to understand your condition and keep asking for terminology to be delivered in easy to digest bites.

Next Week - The Path of Common Risk Factors to Cancer




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