Today was one of the best, if not the best, day of my short career. On a day to day basis I work on the oncology unit and a couple of days a week I get to see patients in an out patient setting, most of which are either about to undergo surgery or are following up post operation. I rarely get to follow a patient through cancer treatment, i.e. chemotherapy and radiation. About a month ago, I received a phone call requesting that I see a patient who was about to begin radiation treatment. The doctor wanted me to make tube feeding recommendations (getting fed via a tube in the belly). You see, the MD expected the worse from his radiation treatment. If you are not familiar with some of the side effects here are just a few: dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, altered taste buds, nausea, vomiting and much more. A man described his swallowing ability, as if he were trying to swallow a mouth full of salt.
Thanks to the MD consult, I had the opportunity to see this patient each week throughout his radiation and today was his last treatment day. During our final meeting we talked about his appetite, weight, protein supplements…the norm, and then at the very end with a huge smile on his face he said “where’s that bell?” I was a little confused, but he explained that on the last day of treatment their is a bell patients can ring so that the whole facility knows they made it through. We said our good byes and a minute later I heard that bell and tears immediately feel from my eyes, very, very happy tears and thankful tears; thankful for the opportunity to meet and counsel such a strong man, thankful for my health and the good health of my family and friends. I do have to admit I was a little ashamed about how much I take my good health for granted.
I share this story with you because each day I preach about good health but not necessarily focus on the reasons why we must follow a balanced, healthy diet. We are not just trying to get in our skinny jeans we are avoiding chronic, life threatening diseases. More and more research is showing us the positives a healthy diet can have on cancer prevention. According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity (BMI >30.0) increases your risk for specific cancers (NCI). Right now 63% of Americans are overweight or obese (CDC). No one can make you get healthy, it is your choice. But, if you are reading this right now and struggle with weight I highly encourage you to visit a registered dietitian in your area. He or she can assess you and help build you a plan to reduce your chances of cancer. Did you know it only takes about a 5% weight loss to cut your risk in half? I challenge you to take a step today or encourage someone you love to make a healthy lifestyle change.
I thank you all for reading; please email me with any questions. God Bless!
Continue to read as I continue my mission: healthy disease fighting Huggins!
National Cancer Institute
Center for Disease Control and Prevention