View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cancer statistics

VIEW FROM THE RIDGE

Exo 18:5-7 Jethro came with Moses' wife and her two sons into the desert where Moses was camped at the holy mountain. He had sent word to Moses that they were coming, so Moses went out to meet him, bowed before him, and kissed him. They asked about each other's health and then went into Moses' tent. GNB

The above meeting took place about 3500 years ago and just goes to show that some things have not changed. Young couples talk about their kids and/or pets, and old folks still talk about their health, then their pets.

Over the last three years I have spent an inordinate amount of time in doctor’s offices, labs and hospitals. I am starting to feel like Frank Weims, our former associate pastor, who, at last count that I am aware of, has had something like 36 surgeries. He is in a class all his own and I am not trying to one up him, but I am on a trend that is not comfortable.

I am in my second tour of duty at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland and becoming all to familiar with navigating around this huge and complex medical facility. In the process of having pre-operative tests and an MRI, I came across two very young children who were also being poked, probed, examined and just plain frightened. One was a two year old girl with an inoperable brain tumor. I saw her come out of the MRI room, sedated but awake, and even not knowing what her problem was, my heart broke and I cried. Later Jeri told me what the issues were because she had talked with the parents. My question to God was “How can a two year old have time to live wrong and eat unhealthy food and develop the problems she has?” Being an ex-IRS agent, I still tend to ask questions that I already know the answer to, but I asked it anyway wondering if God would give me His side of the story. He didn’t so I am left with the answer being “Because I am God and I know what is best and there is a higher purpose in all of this”. Easy for Him to say!

In dealing with my own health issues and some reluctant research, I have come upon some startling statistics. Some of you who keep up on these kinds of things will not be surprised, but I, in my sheltered little world of oblivion, am.

According to the American Cancer Society’s 2009 report, which covers up through 2006, we all have a better than 99% chance of being alive at the end of the year. Our country, with the lowest death rate in the world, has a less than 1% death rate from ALL causes. Take a moment and savor that bit of encouragement because it is probably the last one you will get in this article.

The bottom line is none of us are getting out of here alive. In all of recorded history, only Enoch and Elijah made it without having to experience death. Lazarus got to experience death twice. Whoopee! Of the approximately 3 million people that will die this coming year, 26% will die of heart disease and 23 % will die of cancer. That is half, folks. Half of everyone we know - family, friends, neighbors, co-workers - who dies this year will succumb to one of those diseases. The other half will fall to all other diseases, infections, accidents, natural causes, you name it. That astounds me and I had no idea.

Then I came across a chart that states that one in two men and one in three women will develop cancer in their lifetime. Cancer may not kill them, but it will find them. If you have wondered why so many around us have cancer, there is your first clue. Cancer has no respect for age, race, gender or position. It is indiscriminate.

But there is good news! (OK, sorry, I lied earlier about there not being much encouragement.)  While the cancer incidence rate has only slightly increased over the last 50 years, survival rates have dramatically increased. Five year survival rates for prostate cancer have increased from 69% in 1975 to 99% now. Breast cancer rates have gone from 75% to 89%. The reasons for the increase are better detection methods, earlier detection, and more advanced treatment methods. Research is revealing DNA characteristics of cancer cells and pharmaceuticals are being developed that only target cells with those certain DNA, leaving healthy cells alone. Side effects range from none to very minor.
Plus there are things you can do to help the odds of not getting cancer. If you smoke, quit! Thirty percent of all cancer deaths will be from lung cancer and 30 percent of adults over 18 still smoke.

In the age where the PSA test is just a simple and economically feasible blood test, only 54% of men over 50 have one every year. Come on, guys, get with it! Do one every year and keep track of it. Early detection is the key to prostate cancer. That is gospel from the horse’s mouth! And for you ladies, breast examination and mammograms are a must.

In the course of all this, the best news is that we, who know Christ as Lord and Savior, know that Satan is the instigator of all of this and while he thinks he is winning, he isn’t. For while he may make life miserable here on earth and try to destroy our testimony, we will have victory, even in death.

Rom 8:35-39 Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? As the scripture says, "For your sake we are in danger of death at all times; we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below---there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord. GNB











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