Why We Get Cancer

People respond to cancer in a number of ways, but blaming the patient should never be one of them.

I will never stop being amazed at the stupid things people say about cancer and why people get it. I have to remind myself that it’s a defense mechanism. Their thinking must be something like this:

“If I can figure out what this person did to get cancer, then I won’t get it.”

A case in point. A young man I worked with was diagnosed very suddenly with advanced colon cancer. The doctor told him he had had it for four years when he was diagnosed — and the cancer had already metastasized. He died at 31.

Discussing this with some colleagues, one of them said. “Well, colon cancer has been linked to a low-fiber diet.”

Come on. This young man was only 31 when he died. Could a diet of only fried food have really killed him — even if that was the reality. If that’s so then I know about 200,000 people in East Texas who are living on borrowed time.

I’m sorry, but I have been in parts of this country where trying to find something green to eat was like searching for the holy grail.

If diet alone could kill someone this quickly we would be seeing whole families — heck, whole states – die of the same disease at a young age. Come to think of it, fiber wasn’t something my family ate when I was young. My father lived on steak and potatoes. He died at 82.

It’s the same logic I hear applied to women who get breast cancer. “She must have had a high-fat diet, or she had her babies late in life, or she didn’t exercise.” But we all know women who fit into all three of these categories and didn’t get breast cancer.

Explain to me why Martha, a vegetarian all her life and a marathon runner, got cancer. Duh.

But people who haven’t had cancer continue to blame the disease on the person who got it.

Have there been proven cause and effects for cancer? Yes. In other words, a lifetime of no fiber and no movement can cause cancer — or smoking three packages a day of cigarettes. But they may not.

But we also know that exposures early in life to certain carcinogens or being born into the wrong family can also be a risk. So, unless you have had cancer, keep your mouth shut about what caused it.