Tomorrow, 4th February 2016, is World Cancer Day and today I wanted to post about cancer and how it has affected me personally.
This post is not related to my fitness as much but it does relate to health and keeping healthy and the impact good nutrition can have on your body.
Like most people these days, cancer has made a profound and devastating impact on myself and my family. We have lost a number of people closest to us to various forms of cancer. It can hit anyone at any time, any background, any age, any religion. Cancer does not discriminate.
The strongest memory I have of cancer is something that I find quite hard to talk about but I'm going to try and put into words for you now.
In my late teens, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. At the time I didn't really understand what that meant. I assumed it meant he was ill and there would be medication, perhaps some tough treatment but that would be it.
It wasn't. For those that haven't been there the entire way through someones falling to cancer, the news that it is terminal and that all they can do is try and ease the suffering until the time comes, there is no way to describe it. The realisation that someone can go from seeming just fine, their normal self to barely being able to be coherent, to moving or to doing much for themselves in an exceptionally fast time is heartbreaking.
I watched this big, manly man who had always been in my life pale in comparison to what he was just weeks, months and years before. It was like watching a movie on fast forward and the knowledge that there was nothing I could do about it but watch.
That's not to even guess what the person going through it is feeling. How they feel being told they have been diagnosed with cancer, how they feel being told it's terminal, how they feel going through endless sessions of chemotherapy and cocktails of medicine to all be told it's for nothing and they are giving an expiry date. A date when the doctors would be surprised if they are still around the day after. Just let that sink in for a minute.
So the news came it was terminal and obviously everyone makes time to try and say their goodbyes. I remember this part so vividly. It was half term the week after, I finished school early on the Friday and was meant to be going to the hospital the Saturday, the day after. I had no idea why but something inside me was telling me I wanted to visit that day. I asked Mum and she wasn't sure, she said she'd moved stuff around so she wasn't sure if she could get there with me and my uncle hadn't been great that morning when she spoke to my aunt so maybe it was worth waiting until the day after. Something inside me kept pushing and in the end we went on Friday.
It was both the most horrible and best experience I can honestly say I've ever had. Horrible because my uncle was there, pale, skinny, barely coherent, hooked up to machines trying to keep him coming. He didn't know who we were. I watched my mum try and talk to her brother and get no response and although she was trying to hold it in for me she couldn't and the tears came. I watched this man who had picked me up and taken me to school just months before, struggle to form words, struggle to recognise his sister.
We stayed. We tried to chat. We tried to make light and joke. Then we came to say goodbye. That was when it became the best experience. I held his hand and kissed him goodbye and for a split second, just one he looked at me with his eyes and knew me. Really knew me. I don't know how to describe it other than he knew and I felt more than heard him say goodbye.
That night we got the call that my uncle had passed away. If I had waited until Saturday I wouldn't have got the chance to say goodbye.
Cancer hits and when it hits it hits hard. There are definitely some positive stories and they should be rejoiced and celebrated but there is also so much we are exposed to day in and day out that helps cancer thrive. Chemicals, plastics, processed foods the list goes on.
What I have taken away from my experience with cancer however, is knowledge. There are so many things we can do every day to reduce our likelihood of cancer and help our bodies to cope with the every day stresses. Eating better, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, using and eating natural whole foods, changing our toiletries and makeups to those containing no chemicals and made only from plants, yoga, meditation just to name a few!
So take some time today to make a small change. Maybe it's change one product you have at home to a chemical free one, eat less processed foods, start exercising. It doesn't matter but do something. We can stop cancer but it takes all of us being more aware and using the knowledge that is out there.
Ciao for now x