Tag: cancer

No Hill For a Climber, Early Detection

Several years ago, back in my Navy career, I spent five years in a Special Operations helicopter command, Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron 4, where our mission was Combat Search and Rescue along with helicopter support of Navy SEAL teams such as aerial gunnery and insertion/extraction operations.  Because of the nature of our mission, we were on a 72 hour contingency to deploy anywhere in the world in support of SEAL operations. This tour of duty was quite extreme and very demanding because of  our operating tempo for both training and real world hostilities which there never seems to be a shortage of. One month we could be training in the hot desert environment out in Fallon, Nevada, another month we might be in training in the extreme cold of Vermont in the winter, or close to the Arctic Circle in Norway. We could find ourselves operating out of tents even in extreme weather conditions, or we might find ourselves operating from a Navy ship. No matter our base of operations, we always had to be prepared.

You may be wondering  about now, what does all of this military stuff have to do with cancer and early detection? In this command, we were always prepared to face any foe under any circumstance. The pressures of our operations made it possible for us to deal with any  and all dangerous circumstances life might throw at us. Our training for any and every type of hostility known to man, meant we were proactive in facing these dangers with the confidence that we would always prevail no matter how hard the fight. We were HCS-4 Red Wolves, we were one of the only two most elite helicopter squadrons in the world with our unique mission. Navy SEALS are the most elite fighting force the world has ever known, they only rely on the most elite for their support.

I might have a tough exterior, but inside I am still human with human emotions the same as you. I love my dear wife, she is my best friend in the world, she is my everything. So, the diagnosis of breast cancer was a hard punch to the gut which has had me being somewhat of an emotional wreck over the last couple of days. This beautiful woman has already endured a hysterectomy because of a uterine cancer 30 years ago in the early years of our marriage. And then she underwent the surgical knife once again for vaginal cancer a couple years ago. She still has quarterly cancer checks for the last round of cancer. Now, here we are today, after taking in her brother who is suffering liver cancer, we have received this diagnosis of breast cancer earlier this week. While the diagnosis is quite upsetting, it is also refreshing to know that early detection is the key to beating it, as we have in the past. We are fighters.

Coincidentally, this morning as I checked my Facebook page, I saw a post by my good friend Kenny who has written about finding that he had prostrate cancer from a routine screening. Seeing that reassured me that my muse this morning to write about early detection and screening was the right subject at the right time.

From my good friend Ken LaMaster:

A few months back a very dear friend of mine shared that she was facing an uncertain battle with cancer that her doctors had found. Upon her acknowledging what she might and might not be facing she shared her prognosis with her friends on Facebook. Upon sharing this with her friends she received an overwhelming amount of love, support, well wishes and prayers. Her wish above all us was for her friends who hadn’t had a physical in some time to please do so. It had been 40 years since I had one and I felt compelled to follow through with my dear friends request. I underwent a physical, my first colonoscopy, and prostate exam along with a multitude of blood test etc. In all that it was discovered that my PSA was elevated to 4.7. As a precaution I was directed to an appointment with Dr. Holmes of the KCUC at St. Luke’s Hospital. Approximately three weeks transpire before I see Dr. Holmes where he did additional blood and urine test along with another prostate and bladder exam. In the three short weeks my PSA level had catapulted to 7.0. A biopsy was ordered and was completed almost three weeks later. Today I received the results. After the hardest couple of months of my life including the past ten days I was declared cancer free. A few of my friends, family and associates knew of this and I received many well wishes, lots of love and many prayers. Along the way my dear friend whose wish was everyone get a physical found out her cancer was caught extremely early and she is on the mend. So it is time I pay it forward. My wish and my prayers are that each and everyone of you who have not had a physical for some time please go get one done. My friend and I would be extremely grateful and extend our love and prayers to each and everyone of you. I am extremely Thankful for my friends urging to do so, now its your turn. As they say, the life you save could be your own.

During a training operation once I was talking with a SEAL about physical fitness and training when he said something that has stuck with me to this day;

“We do not own our physical fitness, we only pay rent for it. Quit paying your rent, and you will lose it.”

This statement is  such a huge truth. We must keep working at our fitness or we will not remain fit for long. This becomes even more evident when we not only neglect our physical fitness, but when we add insult to injury by neglecting our nutritional needs with unhealthy food choices too.

Is it enough to just eat clean and exercise? For younger people, this might be enough for a few years. But as our bodies age, it becomes more important to get regular check ups as many cancers and other ailments are not caught until it is too late to do much about them.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. The overall 5-year survival rate for people is 64%. If the cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage, the survival rate is 90%. (1)  Yet, Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States for men and women combined. It is the third leading cause of cancer death in men and the third leading cause of cancer death in women. (1)

Think about this for a minute, the second leading cause of cancer death in America has a 90% survival rate with early detection.

The average 5-year survival rate for women with invasive breast cancer is 90%. The average 10-year survival rate is 83%. If the cancer is located only in the breast, the 5-year survival rate of women with breast cancer is 99%Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States, after lung cancer. However, since 1989, the number of women who have died of breast cancer has steadily decreased thanks to early detection and treatment improvements. (2)

Again, early detection saves lives!

The 5-year survival rate for most men with local or regional prostate cancer is nearly 100%. For men diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 30%.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. It is estimated that 31,620 deaths from this disease will occur this year. However, the death rate has dropped by more than half from 1993 to 2016. There are almost 3 million survivors of prostate cancer in the United States today. (3)

Can enough be said about early detection?

When I was a teenager, I was a Boy Scout. Our motto was “Always be prepared”. This motto carried forth into my military career where every day was a day of preparing for worse case scenarios. My days with Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron 4, took this to a much higher level of preparedness. Being on a 72 hour contingency to deploy anywhere in the world in support of military special operations requires never slacking in your preparedness.  For those of us who have lived with this kind of readiness, this type of lifestyle spills over into our personal lives in many aspects too. It is just a given that you prepare yourself to face the many challenges and struggles of life head on. If we want to live a healthy life of quality, we must prepare ourselves every day for what we might face by being proactive in our health.

Being proactive means to only consume a healthy diet and to exercise your body with a type of exercise that both suits you and that has been cleared by your doctor.

Being proactive means getting regular check ups by your doctor even when you feel fit and healthy. Check ups are less expensive than treatments for catastrophic ailments.

Being proactive means that you do not cave to those around you who do not believe that any of this is not necessary. These types are like crabs who will always want to pull you down to their level. If one does not support your health initiative, they are not a true friend.

Being proactive means that you meet challenges head on and that you do not avoid them.

Being proactive means you make it a point in learning positive lessons from your every endeavor and challenge. For example, I am a strength trainer who trains heavy with iron weights four days per week. My favorite exercise is the barbell squat. There is a positive lesson to be learned every time I get that heavy barbell on my back. I un-rack that weight, squat all the way down, and then stand back up. Yes, this lift being done with well over my own body weight is tougher than anything else I encounter in my day to day civilian life, yet I learn something about myself every time I do it. The lesson learned is;

Even with what seems to be the weight of the world crushing down on my body as I squat down, I can and will stand back up. Should I fail to get back up, I will regroup and try again and again until I can stand back up with it. I will pursue this until I am successful in my efforts as I know that if I can stand back up from a heavy squat, I can stand back up no matter what comes my way to weigh me down.

What gets me back up from a heavy squat besides brute strength and determination?

Preparation and intelligent training is what gets me back up.

As we face Loraine’s breast cancer we will become informed of all the treatment options available to her. We will be proactive in the fight. We will do our parts at getting her well instead of relying solely on her physicians to do their jobs. While the diagnosis sucks, we are fortunate with having early detection through being proactive.

Early detection saves lives!

(1) https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/statistics

(2) https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/breast-cancer/statistics

(3) https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/prostate-cancer/statistics

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Mussels Sicilian Style

(from The American Cancer Society Cookbook)

For a great dinner that is as delicious as it is easy to prepare, try this mussel recipe. There tasty shellfish are affordable for those on a budget, and I recommend buying cultured mussels as they are much easier to clean and are meatier than those from the wild. Be sure that all the mussel shells are closed when you buy them, and cook them very soon after purchase as fresh mussels are far superior in taste than those which might not be quite so fresh.

As an added bonus, mussels are a great source of lean protein!

Nutrition

  • serves 2
  • 304 calories
  • 21g carbs
  • 7.3g fat
  • 29.3g protein

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels (about 36)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • pinch each; dried thyme and oregano
  • 1 (14 ounce) canned tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Scrub mussels under cold water and pull off hairy beards.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and then cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender.
  3. Stir in thyme and oregano; add tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 minutes to reduce liquid. Add wine and return to a boil.
  4. Add mussels; cover and cook for 5 minutes or until shells open and mussels are cooked. Sprinkle with parsley.
  5. Ladle mussels into large soup bowls, spooning tomato mixture over them. Eat with a fork and a spoon – the fork to remove the mussels from their shells and the spoon for the hearty broth.

Shrimp Wrapped with Snow Peas

(Recipe from The American Cancer Society Cookbook)

Who does not love shrimp? I have to say it is one of my favorite sea foods and thankfully is fairly inexpensive at about $8.00 US per pound, give or take a dollar or so. This colorful, delicious hors d’oeuvre is quite easy to prepare. If you find that you have more snow peas than you need, you can serve them with a dip or spread, or spit them down the middle and fill with cottage cheese. You will find this dish to be low in fat and calories.

Nutrition

  • 4 servings
  • 92 calories
  • 3.1 grams carbs
  • 1.1 grams fat
  • 15.8 grams protein

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 thick slice of onion
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves
  • 1 pound large raw shrimp in shells, about 18
  • 1/4 pound snow peas
  1. In a large saucepan, combine water, onion, garlic, bay leaf and celery; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes; add shrimp and simmer, uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp have turned pink. Drain immediately and chill under cold water. Remove shell and de-vein each shrimp.
  2. Trim snow peas and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes or just until the peas are pliable. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to prevent further cooking and to set color. Drain.
  3. Wrap a snow pea around each shrimp and secure with toothpicks.  Arrange on a serving plate and garnish with lettuce, celery and carrot sticks. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

There has been plenty of study over enough years that it is quite factual that many cancers arise in our body’s as a direct result of our dietary habits. As we have done with diabetes by writing numerous articles on the subject and giving you a wide variety of diabetic friendly recipes, it is our intent to do the same in regards to cancer. We are not doctors, and do not pretend to be so, therefore we are in no way, shape or form attempting to imply we have any type of cures. We simply will be providing recipes that can help reduce your risk of getting certain types of cancer in the first place.

Cancer Fighters

Phytochemicals are the compounds found in plants that have potential to help prevent chronic diseases like cancer. They can potentially strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage and help DNA repair, slow cancer cell growth, regulate hormones and prevent damaged cells from reproducing. (1) The American Cancer Society recommends eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. If you eat a lot of fruits and veggies you are eating a lot of phytochemicals.

Carotenoids

Beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin are all carotenoids. They inhibit cancer growth, improve immunity, support vision and improve your skin. Broccoli, carrots, cooked tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, winter squash, apricots, cantaloupe, oranges and watermelon are all good sources of carotenoids. It’s not just carrots anymore!

Polyphenols

These compounds can prevent the formation of cancer and also prevent inflammation. They are found in green tea, grapes, berries, citrus fruits, apples, whole grains and peanuts. These foods contain ellagic acid and resveratrol. Although wine is a source of resveratrol, we don’t recommend wine because of the huge number of calories and large amounts of sugars that you can drink if you have the habit of drinking wine. There is always a potential for addiction to alcohol and with these factors in mind, you have to consider long and hard if you want to drink wine or just eat good whole, healthy fruits and vegetables for your resveratrol fix.

Flavonoids

Apples, onions, soybeans, coffee, tea and citrus fruits are sources of flavonoids. They are known to inhibit tumor growth, reduce inflammation and boost immunity. They contain anthocyanins, quercitin and catechins. I had a Great Aunt who always ate the white, fibrous covering on citrus fruits that’s just underneath the peeling. She said it was for the quercitin. She lived to be almost 100 in good health almost every day of her life.

Isoflavones

These powerhouse compounds inhibit tumor growth and limit the production of cancer-related hormones. They’re found in soybeans and other soy products. I eat a lot of soy. It helps me retain some curves while I cut body fat.

Indoles and Glucosinolates

These chemicals can help lower your cancer risk by preventing tumor growth and decreasing production of cancer-causing hormones. They are found in broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprounts. I have read great reports on cauliflower for years. Nowadays it is being used for everything from pizza crust to mashed “potatoes”. Give this cancer fighter a try. It has a mild flavor and is quite versatile in recipes.

Inositol

There are different types of inositols and phytic acid is available in bran from corn, oats, rice, rye and wheat. Nuts and soybeans are also good sources of phytic acid. It prevents damage to cells so that when they replicate they reproduce a healthy cell.

Phytochemicals are found in all plant foods, not just fruits and vegetables. It’s best to get your phytos from whole foods instead of supplements. The best way to insure that you are getting enough is to always have a colorful plate. Like Mom said, “Eat your vegetables…(fruits and grains.)

(1) https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/phytochemicals-and-cancer-what-you-should-know.h10-1591413.html

Cancer and Nutrition

Cause or Prevention?

There are many factors involved in the development of cancer, some over which we can exert control and others that we cannot. Genetics and environmental hazards are considered beyond our control while our diet is almost completely within our control. While the science is not there to say that any particular foods definitely cause or prevent cancer, there are relationships between diet and cancer which research has revealed. (1)

Calcium

There is evidence that higher calcium intake can lower the risk of cancer, specifically colorectal cancer. It is believed to bind to acids in the body and thereby protect the lining of the GI tract from damage. Above 2,000 mg per day however, is considered to increase the risk of prostate cancer. Most doctors agree that a daily intake of 500-1000 mg. is a good level to optimize calcium’s good effects on the development of cancer. One cup of Cabot Greek Plain Yogurt, made with whole milk, contains 400 mg. This yogurt also has 16 mg. of protein per cup. Fage Plain Greek Yogurt has more protein and less calcium. Choose the one that you like the best. There are many excellent brands available. I prefer the full fat versions because they do not have the tangy taste that’s associated with yogurt. Bone-in fish such as sardines are also a rich source of calcium. One small Atlantic sardine, 2-2/3 x 1/2 x 1/4 inches, has 46 mg. and if you eat sardines, you know that you eat a lot more than one.

Glycemic Index

A 2016 study revealed that foods with a high GI, 70 or above, are associated with an 88% increased risk for prostate cancer. These foods include sugar-sweetened soft drinks, fruit juices and processed foods such as pizza. Foods that are low on the GI such as beans, are linked with a 32% lower risk of both prostate and colorectal cancers. In March of 2015 a study showed a 50% increased risk for lung cancer among people who ate a high GI diet. At David’s Way we always promote a low GI diet.

Processed Meats and Red Meat

Studies consistently show that eating around 2 ounces of processed meat per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer. There is a similar risk for red meat, believed to be associated with the heme iron that is in all red meat.

Weight Gain

In 2014 a study found that a higher BMI increases the risk of developing many of the most common cancers. A 34 pound gain is linked to a 10%, or higher, risk of developing gallbladder, kidney and liver cancers. The hormones and inflammatory proteins produced by fat cells can promote the growth of cancer. We advocate knowing your body fat percentage and keeping it in a healthy range. The number on the scale is not as important as the number of fat cells in your body since they are the trouble makers.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are known cancer fighters. The problem is that sometimes people take supplemental antioxidants for periods of time but across the span of their lifetime, they go lacking in nutritional sources for these nutritional superheroes. It is generally accepted that it’s wise to get your antioxidants from a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables. Try to include bright colors like dark green, orange, purple and red fruits and vegetables for the most protection.

Get Active

According to a study in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2016, good nutrition combined with other healthy habits offers the most protection from cancer. Low risk groups presented as those who do not smoke, drank no more than two servings per day of alcohol, and had a BMI of 18.5-27.5 and engaged in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. At David’s Way, we always tell you to ask your doctor to suggest an exercise program for you to follow. You are a powerful influence in your likelihood of developing cancer. You can increase your risk astronomically by poor nutritional habits and inactivity or you can take control and raise the odds of living into old age cancer free. What will you decide?

(1) https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/cancer-and-diet-whats-the-connection