Shock, fear, anger and helplessness are the typical responses to hearing that you have been diagnosed with cancer. In the United States — 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. However, due to advancements in science and medicine, this is not necessarily a death sentence. In fact today there are an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States and that number is projected to increase to 20 million in 2026.
Even as more and more Americans are “living” with cancer, the fear of the initial diagnosis is often overwhelming and leaves the person with a sense of dread and uncertainty of what to do next.
Here are a few immediate next steps to take upon learning that “you have cancer”:
In his 1971 state of the union address, President Nixon called for a cure to cancer.
Since then there has been $200 billion dollars spent and despite the research efforts put forth, cancer is responsible for 13% of all deaths and is predicted to overtake heart disease claiming more than a half million lives annually.
Why is this challenge proving to be so difficult? The answer lies in the individuality of our DNA. Cancer is a disease of our cells. When a normal cell divides, the cell’s DNA is copied more or less perfectly, however, each division brings about subtle and unique changes in the DNA. Although similar, one person’s cancerous cells are not exactly like someone else’s with the same “type” of cancer. The unpredictable nature of cancer cells makes broad cures elusive.