Editor’s Note: This post was written by Ashley Bell, from The 15-40 Connection, and I felt it was important to share with all our readers.
Did you know that cancer is the number one disease related cause of death in those aged 15 to 40? This means that every eight minutes a young adult is diagnosed with the disease. Not scared yet? How about the fact that survival rates in this age group have not changed since the 1970s. That’s right—a girl wearing plaid bellbottoms had the same chance of beating cancer as someone diagnosed today.
We’ve all heard a lot about cancer—on TV, during our volunteer work, or over the course of our lives. No matter who you are or your relationship to cancer, there is usually a sense of helplessness about the disease. Although cancer statistics are overwhelming and frightening, there are some easy ways you can help prevent cancer in the young adult age group.
Have a Yearly Check-Up
Yeah, we all went to the doctor yearly as a little kid. It was easy when someone else made the appointment and your only concern was what flavour of lollipop you got at the end. Maintaining a yearly schedule with your doctor is essential to catching cancer before it progresses. Find a doctor that you like and trust, and make the time to get a physical every year.
Why? One of the major reasons the survival rate is so low in our demographic is because young adults are diagnosed with cancer at much later stages of the disease. This is because cancer symptoms are often very subtle. Getting yearly checkups ensure that the disease is caught early, when it could be very treatable.
Be an Advocate for Yourself
Who knows your body better than you? If you feel something is wrong with your health, see a health provider. Trust your instincts. A lot of young cancer survivors have been told that they were “too young for cancer.”
If you know that you’re not feeling “right”, believe in yourself enough to push for answers from the doctor. They’ve only known you for a few hours, tops—you’ve known you your whole life.
Know your History
Your risk of cancer has a lot to do with those forbearers of yours. Talk to your parents and family—what diseases could be in your genes? Sharing this information with your health provider at your next checkup will allow them to properly assess your risk.
Also, there is a handy online test by the Harvard School of Public Health that can give you an idea of your risk for cancer.
Spread the Word
The 15-40 Connection is a non-profit organization dedicated to motivating teens and young adults to take action when they notice changes in their normal health, to be strong self-advocates, and listen to their instincts when something is wrong. Help raise awareness with other healthy young adults by following the organization on Facebook and Twitter.
What Do You Think?
Do you follow all these steps to be as pro-active as possible? It’s so important to take care of our health, it is so precious, and often taken for granted. Share your story! Leave us a comment!