Today is the day my weekend catches up with me. I have been reading stories and writing critiques for my fiction workshop almost all day. If I ever finish, I’ll start grading papers. Finally went outside for a nice long walk around 5pm.
Something else that has been on my mind a lot this week is my friend Rosie. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and is keeping an amazing blog at http://www.rosiemaynard.com. I had colon cancer two years ago, diagnosed at thirty-three years old. Rosie is the same age. Although through my illness I became friends with many people with cancer, Rosie is my first friend from my “normal” life who has been diagnosed. I think I somehow thought that since I have been through cancer myself, that when this happened–news of someone else having it–it wouldn’t affect me so much. I’m finding that is not exactly the case, as I have been quite emotional this week.
We tend to think of cancer as the domain of older people, that younger people are the exception, but I think this is less and less the case. Over one quarter of deaths in the U.S. are cancer related. I read recently that the incidence of childhood cancer increased 28% between 1950 and 1987, and that overall incidence of cancer increased 44% between 1950 and 1998 with breast and male colon cancer up 60%, and prostate cancer up 100%.
Reading such statistics, I’m sometimes amazed that we aren’t running and panicking in the streets, looking for someone or something to blame. In a country where we have no problems suing a fast food chain for making us fat, don’t you think we would consider looking at the vast amounts of sugar based foods on the market, as well as the number of foods that are made with partially-hydrogenated oils (that are banned in European countries), our use of pesticides on produce, hormones and antibiotics in our milk and meat products, and artificial sweeteners as just a few of the things that have changed since 1950?