The month of October carries with it a number of meanings for different people.  Even within my own family it has a different level of significance for nearly everyone.  For my son it means that he and I get to disappear on the back roads of southeast North Dakota and do our best to find a pheasant to shoot at.  I said shoot at…that does NOT equate to “bagging the bird”.  For my teenage daughter this year it carries a whole new sense of responsibility as she becomes a brand new driver on our roads.  For my youngest it still means the excitement of dressing up and invading the neighborhood running door to door in an effort to find the house handing out the big candy bars.  And for myself it means another Halloween birthday…now that’s scary!!!

As SCARY as Halloween can be for some, for nearly 21,000 women the month of October could be the most devastating and scary month of their entire life.  That’s because this month almost 21,000 women will be told that they have breast cancer.  On top of that, almost 3,400 women will die this month alone from the number 2 cancer killer of women.

Want to know something even scarier?

This happens every…single…month of every…single…year.

As I’m sure you are aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  During this month we will see pink everywhere.  Pink ribbons will be seen pinned on shirts, coats and blouses.  Pink t-shirts will be worn in support of and commemoration of those who have lost the battle to and those who are currently fighting breast cancer.  Even sports figures don pink shoes and socks during the month.

All of this to increase the “awareness” of breast cancer and, rightfully so.

But at some point “awareness” falls woefully short in changing reality.  In fact, when we examine the data over the last 35-40 years, the progress we have made has been minimal.  For all the “awareness” shouldn’t we expect or maybe demand more progress?

I have a lot of important people in my life that are women.  I love them very much.  Most likely you do too.  I have watched the lives of people close to me; family, friends and even patients end prematurely because of cancer and for me and countless millions others “awareness” has become “reality”.

There comes a time when we must take a step back and examine our current way of looking at things because it gives us the opportunity to ask better questions.  We may not like to answer those questions but, the answers could change our world if we have the courage to face the truth.

I believe Breast Cancer Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to do exactly that.

After all, we have heard of cancer awareness in general for decades yet overall cancer morbidity and mortality rates have barely changed and rates of cancers continue to increase.  People are still getting cancer just as much and they are still dying from cancer nearly as much as in the past.

Want to know the scariest part?

The cancers we are seeing rise the most are the really, REALLY bad ones.

So, this month while the country focuses on breast cancer awareness I believe this is an opportunity to pause and ask some better questions.  Especially about our health.

Have you ever heard someone say that they received blood work from a doctor’s checkup and it was “normal” so their doctor told them they are “healthy as a horse”?

Have you have heard this yourself?

I heard my dad tell me this one day…10 months later he was dead from brain cancer.  Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he was “fine”.

No, he was “healthy as a horse.”

So what happened?  Before he KNEW he had cancer, did he have pain, feel weird, have symptoms and…was he actually “healthy”?

The answers to those questions are no, no, no and…NO!!!

Despite the fact he no symptoms at all, felt as good as ever AND according to his blood work was given a clean bill of health…HE WAS SICK!

Very sick!!!

Why do we consider the absence of symptoms to mean we are healthy?

Why do we equate “normal” blood tests to a clean bill of health?

Why do we think that because we “don’t eat that badly” we are preserving our health?

Buying into that way of thinking has created one of the sickest countries on the planet.  The fact of the matter is that our health is one of our greatest gifts from God.  We were told to protect it.  We were told that our bodies are temples of The Almighty and we are to treat it as such.

So do we???  Do you???

We have been led to believe that as long as we are feeling good then…we must be ok.  As long as our blood work comes back normal then we must be healthy.  As long as we aren’t feeling any pain then we are fine.

Consider these facts:

  • The US has about 5% of the world’s population yet we consume 75% of the worlds prescription drugs
  • 70% of ALL Americans take at least one prescription medication. 70%…of EVERYONE…that includes men, women AND children!
  • 50% take at least TWO prescription pills!!!
  • The World Health Organization’s yearly rating of the health care systems of the world’s developed countries ranks the United States DEAD LAST in healthcare…despite the fact that we have the most expensive health care in the world!
  • According to the American Cancer Society the incidence of breast cancer has barely changed in 30 years.

Isn’t it time we start thinking differently about our health?

Isn’t it time we start asking better questions or maybe, DEMANDING BETTER ANSWERS?

In my next article I will share two incredibly simple things that you and the women in your life can do to DRAMATICALLY reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.  Ironically, these things also help reduce the risk of every other type of cancer as well, in both women AND men.

Until then…It’s your health, fight for it.

Mason Orth, DC

Healthsource of Fargo-Moorhead

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