Today the 7th June 2013 on the cover of ‘i’ (the newspaper formerly known as ‘The Independent) it states that Half of Britons alive in 2020 will get cancer’. I find that quite shocking and its timely as last night I decided to send out this very personal email. It’s not supposed to inspire or motivate you. I send this email with the resounding belief that it may save your life. Or if not you then your wife, your husband, your mother, father, your sister, your daughter or anyone you may know for that matter.
**The last line here has been amended from the original post as I sent this post out to my mailing list and was inundated with people as I aimed it at women only. Of course men do get breast cancer too albeit far less and we too have to be vigilant. There are far too many men dying unnecessarily because they ignore the ‘feelings’ they get because they are too proud or they simply ignore what their body is trying to tell them. That tingling feeling in their fingers, the lump on their testicle, the shortness of breath. The time has passed where we should worry about what people may think if its innocent, how they may think of you should you get testicular cancer. Personally I have had two checks at hospital for what I thought may be small lumps down there (turns out they are called testicles) (that was a joke: but I did have two cysts) .
In February I hosted the iCan Conference which you may have heard about and one of our incredible speakers Nina Joy who was diagnosed last August with terminal cancer. During her speech she asked the 130 people in the room to break into groups of 3. I did wonder what she was up to at that point but all became clear when she told the audience that one person in each group of three would get cancer in their lifetime. Wow. That’s a lot of people I thought.
Sat at the side of the conference room was my wife Helen. Of course she didn’t get into a group of three but she heard the facts like everyone else there that day.
Little did any of us know that my wife Helen in fact did have cancer as she sat there that day. What no one apart from Nina knew was that the previous week Helen ‘had a feeling’. She couldn’t actually feel a lump in her breast but something within in her suggested all wasn’t what it should be. This may have been influenced by the fact I had spoken with Helen numerous times about Nina’s situation and also that in December a very close friend of ours had a small lumpectomy due a small tumor being found in her left breast. Whatever the case, after a couple of complains from Helen I urged he to go tot the doctors to get herself checked. The doctor advised that she couldn’t feel any lumps at all but to give her peace of mind she arranged for an appointment at the breast clinic of our local hospital.
Little did we know that only days after Nina had asked delegates to get into groups of three that we would receive some devastating news. I’m not going to go into the detail of the many hospital visits and checks we have now had but suffice to say Helen has had breast cancer and three weeks ago she had a double mastectomy and reconstruction. The cancer was invasive although not formed into a tumor just yet. We have been extremely lucky. Nina has been told that ‘they are no longer looking for a cure for her’.
In the UK mammograms on the NHS begin at the age of 50 whilst in the NCI (National Cancer Institute) in the US recommend that all women over the age of 40 have a mammogram every 2 years. Both myself and Nina firmly believe that if she had taken the time to have a mammogram, paid privately, at the age of 40 and every few years thereafter then her cancer would have been discovered much earlier.
I have debated for some time whether or not to allow people who read my blog or receive my newsletters this personal information regarding my wife especially when there are some out there who, maybe quite rightly, warn of the sometimes over diagnosis of cancer but with headlines like the ones we have read this morning about the increased occurrence of cancer we have both decided to go ahead.
If my wife had waited another 5 years to have her first mammogram she undoubtedly would have been in a far more serious position and may not have been here to watch the children grow into adults. Our journey is far from over and there is more treatment to come but we feel so blessed that she had the check up when she did. I’m not suggesting that you need to rush out and pay for a private mammogram or have a full body scan as I want you to do your own research, read up about how to check for lumps if you are a woman, or your testicles if you are a man, look at the upsides and down sides of this preventative approach and make your own mind up. Look into your diet and look at the research that’s being carried out including what people are saying about how this modern living we have is influencing cancers. Lets face it, with around 3000 people receiving my newsletter, if the figures we keep hearing about are to be believed then there will be many of you who will develop one cancer or another.
Helen is now the envy of a couple of her friends because, as she puts it, “I’ve now got the boobs of a 25 year old”. In the week that Helen had her operation Anjelina Jolie announced that she had recently had had a double mastectomy which helped Helen who was terrified of the 10 hour operation she was about to have and although it’s not quite been as easy as Anjelina might be suggesting it hasn’t quite been as horrendous as we both imagined.
I urge you to pass this onto anyone you feel may benefit from reading it.