Friday, June 11, 2010

Family Loss - Family Change

We recently have been faced with the loss of my father-n-law.  He was diagnosed with inoperable kidney cancer that had already begun to spread throughout his body, and passed away less than five weeks later.  And while it has been a very sad and difficult time, most especially for my spouse and his mom, there is some sense of peace that he is no longer suffering and is in finally at rest.

I personally know two people who have died from cancer, and quite a few others who have faced it or are still battling it within the last couple of years.  Those numbers are alarming, considering this does not extend out very far into our rather extensive family.   Who knows how many more cases in our family that I don't know about.  As I talk with people giving their condolences, they too are sharing stories of someone they know in a similar situation.  Every single person can name at least one person, many times a handful of people, they know who has battled or is battling some form of cancer.  That just makes it even scarier for ourselves and the generation of our children.  I recently was watching a show that stated our children are the first generation estimated to not live longer than their parents do.  In 2010, this is where we are at! 

According to the 2010 American Cancer Society statistics in the US, men have slightly less than a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women, the risk is a little more than 1 in 3.  Within those numbers are incidents where people have been able to fight it and continue to live a long and healthy life, had it been caught early.  Many, like my father-n-law, never feel the need to see a doctor or get a check up when they claim to be feeling perfectly fine.  However, with it's high rate of prevalence in so many different places of the body, you never know who will be faced with cancer and will be shocked when it hits very close to home.  It is crucial to keep up with your individual health care.

It is a scary thought of having to face such a difficult hurdle in life. Yes, as a family we personally strive towards better healthy lifestyle habits.  But we all give in every now and again to things that might now be so good for us.  This experience has been a real wake up call for us to get ourselves into gear so that we don't leave our daughter well before our time and to ensure that she too has the healthiest happiest life possible.  This does not include lots of TV watching, video game playing, high sugar drinks, high stress lifestyles, and lack of communication within the family unit.  This means going back to simpler times, where playing outside, being active, eating simple balanced meals together as a family, and drinking water were in style. We as parents (of sound mind and body), need to bring these lost traditions and ways of living back into our homes.  We need to find ways to slow down our lives, even if that means making sacrifices, to do so.  No material good is worth more than the longevity and health of our children. And it does start with us.  If we cannot be the happy, healthy, balanced people we want our kids to be, then how in the world do we expect them to accomplish it.  We can start by remembering those things that make us happy.  Let's tap into that joy and light and let it extend to other areas of our life. This my friends is only the tip of the ice burg in trying to create the change we all need and I'm sure many of you have already begun with some other great ideas.

This is all food for thought. My heart goes out to all those families who have had to face this, or are facing this head on right now.  There is never a perfect thing to say to someone dealing with these things.  The best thing we can all do for each other is lend an ear, offer support, and keep an open heart.