Tragic loss makes cancer all too real

Despite the fact that cancer is one of the leading causes of death each year, I’ve never really given it too much thought. Sure, my heart goes out to all the individuals affected by lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and all the other cancer-related viruses that seem to plague our nation.

That is, until my mom lost one of her best friends to breast cancer. Quite frankly, that was a major shock to my system that was only deepened by the recent loss of a family member who died from cancer.

I always knew that cancer was indeed very dangerous, but after losing both a friend and a relative, I saw the disease in a whole different light and decided to learn what I could.

What I discovered was both fascinating and deplorable.

The American Cancer Society states that anyone can develop cancer. About 77 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in individuals that are 55 and over.

The American Cancer Society expects more than 500,000 people to die from cancer in 2008. I find that frightening. I believe we, as learned beings, need to educate ourselves on this deadly illness. So many lives could be saved if we became more knowledgeable. To that end, a few ways to prevent cancer are as follows:

Avoid smoking because smoking can cause lung cancer.

Practice safe sex, as it is beneficial in preventing cervical cancer.

Exercise regularly. Being overweight can greatly increase the risk factor for developing cancer. Know your family history. Research has proved that cancers can be genetic.

Cancer does not discriminate; it comes in all forms. However, by informing ourselves and keeping up with regularly scheduled visits to the doctor, we can fight to overcome this life-threatening illness and emerge victorious.

Jay Christie is a junior magazine production student from Tallahassee. He can be reached at