Cancer is probably the worst thing a person can experience. Most people are lucky enough not to know someone with cancer. I, unfortunately, am not one of them.
I was ten years old when my cousin, Michael, died of cancer, specifically a mass in his brain. He went from being a very active teen to being bed ridden in just a few months. After several painful and body wasting treatments, he passed at the young age of thirteen. So began my relationship with this horrible disease. To my cousin’s credit, he resigned himself to his fate early. He bravely told his doctors to try anything, not for him, but to learn so they could help other children. I have always been humbled by his willingness to go through so much to help others he would never meet.
Since my cousin’s death, there have been several others I have known that have dealt with cancer in some form. Breast, liver, lung, and even bone marrow cancers have affected friends and family. Some treatments have thankfully been successful, but not all.
Just for children, over 175,000 are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year. Around 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in the US in that time. In total, nearly 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses happen each year in the US. That is just slightly less than the population of Wyoming, Washington DC, and Vermont.
Throughout the world, about 14 million people learn they have cancer and 8 million people die from the disease each year. If you took every person in the Caribbean except Haiti and the Dominican Republic, there would still be almost 4 million people receiving a cancer diagnosis. If you take away Puerto Rico, you would have the rest of those island nations all dead every year. Continue reading