An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, said four-year cancer survivor Carole McCaskill.
The 49-year-old Fitzroy Harbour woman, who was diagnosed with ovarian and brain cancers in 2007, said she turned her life around with good nutrition, exercise and healthy living – using tips offered by the group Prevent Cancer Now.
“I just started eating extremely healthy and changing my lifestyle, and, knock on wood, I’m still here.”
Now, McCaskill wants to educate others about how they can avoid developing cancer by introducing preventative habits into their lifestyles.
McCaskill and Jake Cole, the co-chair of Prevent Cancer Now, will offer a multi-media presentation, Prevention is the Cure, at the Kanata Baptist Church on Aug. 30, running from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
“I bring a unique perspective, having survived cancer,” said McCaskill. “I want to give back and hopefully people will listen.”
When McCaskill was diagnosed with cancer four years ago she immediately turned to Google, researching online ways to combat the diseases.
“I had this attitude, what can I do to help myself?,” said McCaskill.
Her doctor told her to get plenty of rest and to drink Boost, a nutritional drink that would help her avoid rapid weight loss during her chemotherapy treatments.
“I looked on the lable and it was all sugar and crap,” she said.
McCaskill started following some of the advice in Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic, a book written by Liz Armstrong, Guy Dauncey and Anne Wordsworth, which recommended adopting a healthy lifestyle, with good nutrition and plenty of exercise.
“I really believe in a lot of the stuff. I’m following a lot of the recommendations,” said McCaskill.
She started eating organic healthy fruits and vegetables, drinking a protein shake mixed with fresh blueberries everyday and began a walking program.
When she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, McCaskill was told the average life expectancy is 16 months.
“I’m well past that,” she said. “It’s been four years now.”
McCaskill joined the group Prevent Cancer Now, a national organization created in 2007 that educates people on how to live healthy to lower the risks of the onset of cancer.
The presentation on Aug. 30, Prevention is the Cure, offers many of the tips McCaskill used during her cancer treatments,
The presentation is free but the information is priceless, said Jake Cole, co-chair of Prevent Cancer Now.
“We seem to be after the cure and the treatments and the early treatments,” said Cole. “The prevention is left out.”
Cancer is the number one killer in Canada, said Cole.
This year, more than 117,800 people will contract it for the first time and 75,000 will die from the disease, said Cole.
Nearly half of all men and women will eventually contract cancer, while one in four will die from the disease, he added.
“These statistics should invoke both fear and outrage,” said Cole. “Instead we seem to be complacent, accepting cancer as an unwanted, but somehow inevitable part of living.”
But a significant number of cancers can be prevented, he said.
“Following a growing body of evidence, we see the potential to prevent cancer in 80 per cent of cases,” he said. “Some believe this number could be even higher.”
A great deal of money is spent pursuing a cure for cancer but only two per cent of health spending goes towards prevention, said Cole.
McCaskill has a simple explanation for the lack of investment in cancer prevention.
“There’s no money in patenting broccoli,” she said. “Lots of drug companies and a lot of people benefit from cancer – there’s big money in cancer and cancer treatments.”
The Prevention is the Cure presentation will offer a number of cancer prevention tips including:
* Don’t smoke.
* Eat an organic, plant-based diet.
* Buy environmentally-friendly cosmetics, cleansers and other common drugstore products.
* Avoid cellphone use.
“While treatments improve marginally and some lives are extended, we seem to miss the obvious first choice: stop the disease before it starts,” said Cole.
Cole, a Kanata resident and former Green Party candidate for Carleton-Mississippi Mills in the 2008 federal election, said Prevent Cancer Now fits in nicely with the Green’s health platform of disease prevention.
The Aug. 30 cancer prevention talk is hopefully the first of many across Ottawa and eventually Canada, said Cole.
Jonathan Mills, a pastor at Kanata Baptist Church, said his church was happy to host the first Prevent Cancer Now talk.
“Cancer is a devastating disease,” he said. “As a pastor I have walked with many families through the devastation of cancer – it’s a very painful and devastating journey. For some it ends with death, for others it ends with physical and emotional scars.”
For more information about Prevent Cancer Now and the Aug. 30 presentation, call 613-755-0110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.