This Thing Called Cancer

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Cancer. The word has a somewhat mythical element to it, no?

After all, Cancer happens to other people. It happens to persons who exist somewhere on the periphery of our circles of known people. A friend’s uncle’s wife or the neighbour’s sister’s son or a grandparent you barely knew. You know, those guys who probably drink and smoke heavily (tsk tsk). Cancer happens to celebrities, to beloved fictional characters in books, movies and TV shows. It happens to Mukesh who is featured in the advertisement before a movie starts to play in the cinemas. Cancer doesn’t happen to me.

Most of us in our youth live in this warm and comfortable bubble of denial. We’re in our fabulous 20s, the world belongs to us, we can eat junk food without a second thought, this is our time- what do you mean cancer can happen to us?

Alright, it’s time to sort some things out. Let’s consult our friend Google for some information.

What is cancer?

The body is made up of trillions of living cells. Normal body cells grow, divide to make new cells and die in an orderly way. Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control (due to mutation of genes). Instead of dying (like normal cells), cancer continues to grow and form new, abnormal cells. .

Most cancers start because of gene mutations that happen sometime during a person’s lifetime.

[Sourced from:]

What causes cancer?

Genetic factors: A family history of cancer puts you at a higher risk for developing the disease.

Environmental factors:

Several environmental factors can contribute to cancer, some of which include:

-Overexposure to UV rays
-Smoking and alcohol abuse
-An unhealthy diet
-Overexposure to hormones
-Physical inactivity

[Sourced from: Wikipedia]

The WHO states that nearly 30% of cancer deaths can be avoided by addressing the main risk factors.

Alright, we’ve now learnt that a mutation to our genetic material causes cancer and we’re probably lucky enough to be born with normally functioning cells without the mutation. However, if we don’t pay enough attention to our lifestyles we could inadvertently be giving ourselves cancer by causing the mutation to occur. Some of us have decided to now take better care of ourselves and to go for regular health check-ups.

But some of us surely think…”I know a person who was a shining example of good habits. Never drank, never smoked, never ate outside-and yet he/she developed cancer. So why should I care? I’d rather live my life to the fullest. I’m young, it’s the age to drink and smoke and eat as I wish! If cancer is written in my destiny then let it come and I will deal with it.”

To you guys…consider this. Let’s say some day (god forbid) you are diagnosed with cancer. And as planned, you are ready for it- you have the strength and energy to bear the pain and rush to the hospital at odd hours. You don’t mind the constant poking and prodding at your body and the zillion tests. You can deal with the unpleasant side effects of medication and you have the patience to answer unending and embarrassing questions. But it’s not just you who will be affected by cancer. Your parents, your siblings, your friends and who knows, by then maybe even your spouse and children- they will all be a part of your cancer journey. They will pay for this nightmare to end and crave for normalcy to return to their lives. And if, if you lose the fight- it is your loved ones who will struggle to pick themselves back up emotionally, psychologically, economically. It will take them years to find closure- if they ever will.

Are you still ready to take the risk?

Do not ignore your health.

by Shivani P Naik
Working for Yoddhas- Indians Fighting Cancer, a UNESCO awarded NGO.
To learn more about Yoddhas, visit:

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  1. Thought provoking article Shivani. I am sure this will create awareness amongst the young and old in having a happy living by curtailing avoidable health abuses. Keep writing.

  2. Very well written, A real eye opening and it is very useful for anyone
    Wish all the best.

  3. Dear readers,

    In Eastern democracies like India, the public image of a political party often matters more than its actual performance. The party image revolves around three pivots. The first is: How clean is the government? Then how strong is it in protecting national interest on the security front? The third and unfortunately the least important is: How has the government performed in core areas of governance and economy? By all accounts, the Modi government would get a high score if one were to compare its performance in core areas and the economy with the first year of previous governments.

    But this too has come under attack now with a parliamentary committee headed by the BJP MP from Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, Dilip Kumar Gandhi, clearly marching to the tune of the tobacco lobby in the country, which is responsible for 9,00,000 deaths every year due to tobacco-related diseases, mainly cancer.

    The committee was to decide by April 1 whether the size of the pictorial warning on the cigarette packet should be increased to over 80 per cent from the current 30 per cent. The tobacco lobby had been politically active trying to derail the proposal as studies have found that the advertising and pictorial campaign against intake of tobacco has great psychological impact on smokers and tobacco chewers, thus dissuading them to leave tobacco and affecting the sale of tobacco products.

    Gandhi virtually gave in to the pro-tobacco lobby at great cost to the BJP government’s clean image at the centre by deferring the decision. Gandhi said, “There is no Indian survey report to prove that tobacco consumption leads to cancer. All studies are done abroad… We have to study the Indian context, as four crore people in states like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh are dependent on bidi-making through tendupatta”.

    Have your say. You can comment here.Gandhi’s sweeping statement that left the BJP leaders red-faced triggered speculation. The most virulent among them was whether the honest Dr Harshvardhan was deprived of the health ministry portfolio because of the pressure of the tobacco lobby and whether the present health minister JP Nadda was also allegedly batting for the gutka czars whose lifestyle marked by expensive cars and Bollywood style mansions has often been the envy of many in the corporate world. Nadda, of course, reiterated his government’s resolve to increase deterrents against tobacco consumption.

    This demonstrated by the government of “propagating and promoting tobacco lobby” in India to common man’s peril and wondered whether former Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was removed from the ministry last year due to his anti-tobacco stand.Who is responsible for putting a beedi baron whose annual turnover is over Rs 200 crore on a parliamentary panel that was to decide the fate of millions of Indians?

    Will the person be held accountable? Why didn’t the panel speak to any doctors, health experts? Why didn’t the Health Ministry not give any formal evidence to the committee? Will the Prime Minister, who tweeted so passionately on World No Tobacco Day give a personal commitment that India won’t go back on 85 percent warnings? Won’t a revised 60-65 percent notification be a victory for the tobacco lobby? “Modi government is actively pursuing the policy of propagating and promoting tobaco lobby in India to the peril of the common citizen.

    A “penny to make dollar to sell” of tobacco lobby is already addicted to the different genders regardless of age.The opening budget of PM Modi government has unexpectedly ordered a near 20% cut in India’s healthcare budget for the current financial year, owing to financial constrains.

    Over 60bn rupees ($947m, £609m, €775m) has been slashed from the Health Ministry’s budget allocation of around $5bn for the financial year ending 31 March, 2015, an unnamed ministry official told Reuters.

    The move could jeopardise crucial disease control initiatives in a nation whose public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world. The UN has estimated that about a third of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people live in India, Asia’s third largest economy.

    To rub salt to the injury PM Modi’s ‘Sab ka sath,sab ka vikas’ gifted common man by increasing Cancer drug price from Rs 8,000 to Rs 1.08 lakh.

    Cancer drug price goes up from Rs 8,000 to Rs 1.08 lakh

    A policy paralysis governance driven by super brain economist like Jaitly,Junior Sinha,Arun shourie,should explain the nation, how does this government will shoulder budget of staggering 90,000 crores per annum to run ‘BULLET TRAIN’ which slashed health budget citing financial constraint to one of lowest in the world?

    Jai hind

  4. Good job Shivani ! Its time to change our lifestyle – diet, exercise, etc. Thanks for this informative article. Best wishes for more and more articles to come. Keep writing !

  5. A big thank you to all those who have appreciated my daughter’s article and conveyed their best wishes. Definitely your encouragement will go a long way in shaping up her career in media & communication. She will continue writing many more such articles in the future too.

    Thank you for uploading it on your website.

  6. Very well written.. Congrats Shivani.. Each one of us need to take care of our health as well as help others to do it.. God bless you and may you enlighten the minds of our people on important health tips.. how cancer kills not only the victiim but everyone around affected.. It is agony in the whole family.. always suspense and terrible time in the hospitals.. the reactions in the body with the treatment.. Only a person who suffers knows it..

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