I love to exercise. Well, I love to exercise as long as it isn’t on a treadmill, or outside where dogs are able to chase me. I love taking fitness classes but only if the instructor is a former dancer and introduces herself before class. Working out is no problem as long as I don’t have to get up early or stay up too late, and it can’t mess up my hair. By now you must be scratching your head thinking, “This woman is crazy. That’s a lot of conditions.” You’re right. I only like working out when all of these conditions are met. Unfortunately, these conditions are rarely met, and my workouts become sporadic at best. That’s a problem.
We’ve known for a long time that people are becoming more sedentary. Incidents of diabetes, heart disease and other obesity related illnesses have risen dramatically. But researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found, after studying decades of data, that people who were physically active were 24 percent less likely to develop colon cancer. If that 24 percent means nothing to you, let me break it down in real numbers.
Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer. Approximately 100,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer yearly. If we all move our bums a bit more, 24,000 people would never have to visit an oncologist. They would never have surgery. They would never have to go through chemotherapy. They would be colon cancer free.
The benefits of moving don’t stop there. According to a study published this year, if you are a colon cancer survivor, your chances of preventing its return increases with movement. Just 2.5 hours per week cuts your risk of dying by approximately 30 percent. That is 30 percent more time with your family and friends! Isn’t that worth every second that you spend on a treadmill?
So that is why I am sitting here sweaty. Yep, I am typing in my workout gear. I just finished an hour long walk with my children. Yep, I brought the kiddos along. Here’s why: my husband – their dad – is a colon cancer survivor. That means that their chances of developing colon cancer is elevated. I am armed with that knowledge and know that children mimic what they see not what we tell them. I can tell them that working out is important, but if I never broke a sweat, they wouldn’t either. That’s why I can look past my list of conditions and try different workouts with my children. I not only want to be healthy, I want them to be healthy too. If working out means that my children move into the 24 percent of people less likely to develop colon cancer, just call me “Jane Fonda.”
From Father’s Day to Men’s Health Month, June is all about the men. And that is great because I love men – well, I love my man, so that counts, right? Well, this blog is all for the ladies. The ladies that love their men. It is time to shower our men with love, and part of that love is taking responsibility for our men’s health.
Yep, I said taking responsibility for their health. Why? Because we are their first line of defense. Can we be frank ladies? We know when something is wrong with our husbands. We have Ph.D.s in our husbands. We know when they are tired, bothered, gaining weight, losing weight and sick. At times it seems that we know them better than they know themselves. So when we see a problem, we have to act. Trust me. I learned this the hard way.
Chris, my hubs, had blood in his stool a full year before he went to the doctor. I told him to call his doctor, but he didn’t. He waited and waited. Over the course of a year, it went from infrequent blood in his stool to fatigue to anemia to weight gain to severe fatigue. By the time Chris went to the doctor, we were already at an advanced stage. I say we because when someone you love is diagnosed with colon cancer, you go through every step with them. I still kick myself for not demanding that he went to the doctor sooner. Maybe if it was caught sooner, we could have avoided chemo. Maybe.
So ladies, it is Men’s Health Month. Check his schedule, clear a day and make appointments. Make it a scavenger hunt. Promise him nookie if he completes them. Do whatever it takes to ensure that his health is protected. The best way to love your man is to care for your man. Go ahead and start now because June is all about the men.
Sunday, June 2 was National Cancer Survivors Day. It is a day when everyone who has been touched by cancer get a chance to take a collective deep breath. As we all take that deep breath it is a reminder of all that we have overcome and how much we have to be thankful for. But can I be candid here? I haven’t felt much like celebrating lately. Why? Because so many people are being touched by cancer. So many people that are directly and indirectly related to me have been attacked by cancer. Breast cancer, bone cancer, liver cancer and colorectal cancer, cancer, Cancer, CANCER!
I used the word “attacked” because I feel like cancer is attacking those closest to me. Every few days friends are inboxing me for information and prayers. My spirit is heavy. My spirit is tired. My spirit is worn.
So National Cancer Survivors Day came and went with barely a glance from the Taylor Family. But today, I am going to shake it off and celebrate a CANCER FREE LIFE! A year ago, Chris was preparing for surgery to remove the cancerous part of his colon. But today that is gone! A year ago, we were starting our chemotherapy journey. But today, we are finished with chemo and improving our health daily.
It is time to shake off the weariness and celebrate. Celebrate how awesome life is right now. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to those that are still battling cancer. We have to wave the flag or light the way for folks that are still going through it. We have to show them that there is life on the other side of cancer.
So while June 2 was National Cancer Survivors Day, every day is Survivor Day in my book. And the Taylor Family is going to celebrate daily.
Sunday May 12, 2013 – Do you know what that day is? You better! It’s Mother’s Day!! Now normally, I write about my husband’s journey with colon cancer and our family’s response to that struggle. But today it is a bit different. I want to tell you about a friend of mine and her journey with her mother’s cancer. Is that ok? Good.
My friend’s mom had been sick for a while. She went to doctors and tried to get to the bottom of it but didn’t seem to get a definitive answer. Finally, her doctors diagnosed her with colon cancer. Her diagnosis shocked everyone because her cancer did not present in the “normal” ways. But that is what is so important about this story; colon cancer is not always normal. The most common symptoms of colon cancer are blood in the stool, a change in your bowel habits, abdominal discomfort, unexplained weight loss and weakness/fatigue. My husband had weakness and blood in the stool. That’s it. But look at the symptoms again. Fatigue? Heck, between second jobs, kids and everything else, who isn’t tired now days? Abdominal discomfort? You can chalk that up to bad Thai food. Unexplained weight loss? I don’t know about you, but I am never upset about losing a few pounds See, all of those symptoms could be explained away by any other ailment.
And if you are like me, I am constantly amazed that my own name never makes it on my own to-do list. Moms are quite sacrificial. If one of my lil’ pumpkins have the sniffles, then it’s off to the doctor immediately. But if I have walking pneumonia and a touch of malaria, I will still go to work, make a PTA meeting and then maybe look at my calendar to schedule a quick visit. That is unacceptable when you have any of the aforementioned symptoms. The longer you wait the more your cancer can grow and spread.
Unfortunately, by the time my friend’s mom was diagnosed, it was too late. She passed away. But her cancer wasn’t in vain. Her daughters are vigilant about their colorectal health. They’ve learned from her illness. But that doesn’t take the place of having your mom around especially on Mother’s Day. So here is my advice to mom’s: take your health seriously. Don’t put off your feeling that something is not right. Talk to your doctor and get to the bottom of anything that you think is out of whack. Get a second opinion. And get screened. You don’t want your children to have to suffer the heartache of a Mother’s Day without you – their mom.
Earth Day, the day that we all stop and celebrate the environment, is today, and I know you are scratching your head thinking what does this have to do with colon cancer? But the answer is simple. When you care about the environment, you spend time outdoors. When you spend time outdoors, your chances of developing colon cancer go down.
Still not following me? Well, stay with me for a moment. To help lower your risk for colon cancer you need to have a healthy digestive system. That means that you need to eat plenty of high fiber vegetables, drink plenty of water and move your body. What does any of that have to do with the environment? Well, without a clean and healthy environment, none of the above is possible.
Let’s start with eating high fiber vegetables. I may not be an environmentalist, but I know that if the earth is contaminated you can’t eat cleanly. And by cleanly, I mean unprocessed. You want to eat as many high fiber unprocessed foods as possible.
Next up is drinking plenty of water. Once again, I didn’t major in biology, but you can’t drink water if it isn’t clean, right? Recycle your plastic bottles and keep them from going to landfills. Use a refillable water bottle. That means that you are protecting your water source and drinking more water. That’s a win-win.
Finally, it is spring. The yuckiness of winter is finally over. You have to move your body to keep your digestive system working its best. Now, I am not saying you have to step outside tomorrow and become a triathlete, but you can go for a walk. Just lace up your tennis shoes and head out your front door. Studies show that walking for 30 minutes a day does a world of good. So talk a walk around your neighborhood or local park. Celebrate the earth while decreasing your chances of developing colon cancer.