Help fight cancer at Bon Secours

Published 9:50 pm Monday, March 10, 2014

If there’s a disease that kills a large number of people and can’t necessarily be avoided by smarter lifestyle choices, it’s cancer.

While the chance of heart attack and stroke can be vastly improved by eating right, staying in shape and avoiding stress, cancer is unfair in that it seems to strike as many healthy people as unhealthy.

Of course, those who smoke and eat nothing but processed foods are more likely to get it, but I’ve seen more than one person in good physical condition and with healthy habits fall prey to the “big C.”


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March is National Colorectal Awareness Month. This cancer is the third-largest cancer killer — behind prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women, and lung cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon and rectal cancer in the United States hit 35.4 individuals per 100,000 in 2010. In another study cited by the Virginia Department of Health, there were 43.1 cases in Virginia per 100,000 from 2005 to 2009. Nationwide, that rate was 46.3 cases.

The state department also reports that the health district including Suffolk had between 48 and 53.6 cases of colorectal cancer from 2005-2009 — at the very upper end of the commonwealth’s scale. At the lower end, Northern Virginia had between 30.4 and 41.2 cases per 100,000.

Is cancer a disease we must live with — and die from — as a price of modern society? Maybe so. World Cancer Research Fund International reports 268 cases of cancer per 100,000 in more-developed regions, compared to 148 in less-developed regions in 2012.

As the developing world develops, and the already-developed world develops to higher and higher degrees, worldwide cancer rates are going to continue climbing. Nothing, short of a medical breakthrough, will change this.

The medical community must continue striving toward that elusive “breakthrough.” But to find it, they’ll need all our support.

As it stands, the best defense against cancer — other than not smoking and not living next to Chernobyl — is screening, which catches the disease in the early stages, so it can hopefully be cut out or killed with chemotherapy before it spreads throughout the body.

In Suffolk, Bon Secours raises awareness toward this — along with money to care for cancer patients — during its annual 5K for Colon Cancer and 1-Mile Fun Walk at the Health Center at Harbour View.

This year’s event is set for April 5. For further details, visit