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Front Page » September 16, 2003 » Opinion » The gift of life
Published 3,968 days ago

The gift of life


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

The most wonderful feeling came over me Friday morning standing in the cool breeze in front of the new United Way office behind Zion's Bank. It was the morning after 9/11 and the visions of all the children speaking and singing still rang clear in my head. As the Helper Junior High cheerleaders marched forward with the flag, and the Star Spangled banner was sung strongly, I noticed more than one person had a tear in their eye. For me it was a tear of gratitude, a tear of happiness for all the freedoms and gifts we have.

The gift of life was the topic I had already chosen to write about following a breakfast meeting last Tuesday where the American Cancer Society honored the Carbon County Unit.

Rose Defa, the executive director for the state spoke to a group of about 25 volunteers and besides her recognition of the hard work and continual strong efforts made in Carbon and Emery counties, she spoke about cancer and the urgency to fight it today. That effort is still as important presently as it has been for the last several decades. She pointed out that about one and a third million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year and over half a million people will die from the disease this year.

The staggering statistic was that cancer deaths are on the decline and there is hope. The gift I walked away from the meeting was that one third of all cancer deaths are caused by tobacco and another third could be prevented through proper dieting and exercise. That means 66 percent of the people who die could prevent their death by changing a few simple things like the intake of tobacco, eating correctly and developing an exercise program.

I just lost a brother to cancer last August and even after the tumor was removed and he was recuperating in the hospital he had to sneak away to the back door to have his cigarette.

I asked him why? Hadn't the cancer caused enough damage? What about the family he was going to leave behind?

The American Cancer Society is working to combat the problem on four fronts, including advocacy, research, education and patient assistance. It's through these efforts that hope is found. It's through these fronts that the message is carried.

We can prevent much of the cancer today and we can pass on the wonderful gift of life to our families and friends by making some sound decisions for living.

The American flag and the Star Spangled banner will always bring a tear to my eye, a tear of gratitude and happiness, but the gift of life, the sharing and caring that so many people find through support and hope is ultimately what's important. Thanks to the local efforts through the Carbon County Unit of the American Cancer Society many are feeling that hope today. Many others are taking the message to heart and changing their lifestyles.


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