AT RANDOM: Let’s knock cancer out

It had been more than 20 years since I’d seen my friend’s younger brother, but the news of his death the other day still shocked.

It had been more than 20 years since I’d seen my friend’s younger brother, but the news of his death the other day still shocked.

Gone at the young age of 43; two young daughters left behind; taken by that disease many of us know too well.

He joins my grandparents and aunt and uncle, among the millions around the world, who have fought the fight, and unfortunately lost.

If I could put a face to cancer, it would be my worst enemy –– someone whose lights, or at least deteriorating cells,  I’d knock out flat, if only I could.

There are days, after hearing about another senseless death, that I wonder why this disease still takes so many that we love. Where has all that money towards research gone? Where are the advances in eradicating cancer? Why is there no damn cure?

And I know there are people out there who have given up. They no longer donate towards cancer research because they see no end in sight. They are fed up, watching loved ones suffer.

Believe me, I’ve been there myself.

But when the fog of anger lifts, and you start looking into the advances of cancer research, drugs and treatments, progress is being made. There’s hope to cling onto, and the possibility that one day cancer will be a thing of the past.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, today, 62 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer survive their disease. In the 1960s, the survival rate was one in three.

“We know more about what causes cancer, how it develops, how best to treat it, and how we can improve the quality of life of cancer patients, survivors, families and caregivers,” reads the society’s website.

Put basically, we are learning more about why some cells behave the way they do.

Those who read the 2010 bestseller The  Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will know about how the cells removed from the cancerous cervix of one woman have gone on to be used in laboratories around the world.  Scientists have been attached to their microscopes watching how cancerous cells, and in this case the immortal HeLa cell, mutate, what makes them grow the way they do, and how to stop them.

Early detection is now key and easier to do thanks to advances in technology and screening equipment, and new medicines are being developed to strike cancers down in their earliest, most vulnerable stages.

Clinical trials continue on cancer patients to discover new combinations of chemotherapy, and radiation before and after surgery.

Complementary and alternative therapies are also being examined rather than dismissed.

All this attributes to the reason why the rate of death due to cancer, specifically with breast and prostate, has decreased significantly.

Many people are in remission now due to that research. But there’s still the ones that succumb.

Here in the North Okanagan there are many ways to give towards research while commemorating those who have fallen to the disease and those who have fought and won.

One of them is coming up on June 2.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life kicks off at Vernon’s Polson Park at 6 p.m. with the survivors’ lap, an event that always hits me right in the heart.

There’s also the Do it for Dad walk and run, which supports early detection and research for prostate cancer. It is held annually on Father’s Day at Coldstream Ranch.

And then there are the Terry Fox Runs and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Run for the Cure in the fall…

If you’re not into running, or walking, you can always support the cancer society’s  daffodil campaign that takes place every April and then there’s the planned expansion of the McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre at Vernon Jubilee Hospital,  which is in need of support, with the money going straight into the community.

The B.C. Cancer Agency is also in need of funding to  provide its essential regional services, information, and more.

These are just some of the ways we can make sure research continues. I’m hopeful cancer eventually bites the dust.

—Kristin Froneman is the entertainment editor for The Morning Star