A different kind of cancer statistics

Siegfred Bueno Mison, Esq.

IN 2022, cancer remains as the second most common cause of death in the US, after heart disease. In the same year, 21 percent of cancer deaths in the US come from lung and bronchus, 9 percent from colon and rectum, 8 percent from pancreas, 7 percent from breast, while 55 percent comes from all others. According to a US study, pancreatic cancer is the least survivable and quickest killing cancer while breast cancer and prostate cancer are supposedly the most curable.

In the Philippines, cancers in the lung, breast, colon, rectum, and prostate are the common cancers according to a 2021 World Health Organization Report. One of the important legislative measures to combat cancer is the 2019 Philippine National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA). It includes provisions covering the development of cancer centers, educational initiatives for both professionals and laymen, and psychosocial, supportive, and palliative services, among others.

When it comes to palliative care, I consciously rendered one to TJ, a very dear friend of mine, who found out that she had cancer quite belatedly and succumbed to it within a year from discovery. Despite being diagnosed with peritoneal cancer, one of the rare and deadlier kinds, TJ remained upbeat and sought divine grace for a miracle. Unfortunately, no amount of financial resources and prayers could prevent TJ from joining Our Creator at an early age of 53. Her family “celebrated” her first year death anniversary a few weeks ago.

With so much research time and resources spent, I wonder why mankind has yet to find a cure for such menacing disease.

Statistically speaking, one study that included 119 organizations reported that $6 billion went to cancer research. Among all cancer research recipients, breast cancer received the largest donation in the amount of $460 million in 2019. Rightly so, since experientially speaking, among all my relatives who have or had cancer, all but one had breast cancer. One can seem to wonder why spend more money on breast cancer which has a high survival rate as opposed to lung cancer which has a very low survival rate. According to Dr. Mona Khanna, a triple board-certified practicing physician and an Emmy Award-winning journalist, the likely reason for such funding disparity is more about marketing. She says that some cancer-specific donors are turned off by some “unworthy kinds” such as lung cancer, which are often associated with smoking. Either way, a lot of fund support has been given and used to find a cure.

While cancer ends one’s physical life, it also resurrects one’s spiritual life. I remember how my friend TJ went from shock to denial to resistance and, finally, to acceptance in her cancer journey. It was in this stage of acceptance that TJ physically suffered so much pain yet endured as she spiritually matured and embraced God’s will. She got killed by cancer but got resurrected by it as well as she spent whatever energy she had left to help her loved ones. Kindness prevailed over her suffering as she looked to help others first before herself, despite the frequent episodes of stomach pain.

Our human years are numbered yet we don’t know the exact number. For some, fear of the great beyond makes them tremble. For others, like TJ, she sought refuge in the biblical promise in Isaiah 41:10
“fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I used to be terrified of getting hurt and dying, while I was in the Army. Over time, I realized that God had already written all the days of my life in his book. He has already numbered the days of my life as well as everyone else’s. With that spiritual mindset, I fear less of whatever happens around me. Such fearlessness makes me invulnerable knowing that I don’t have control of anything, except my free will of choosing faith over fear.

In the Bible, Psalms 90:12 tells us, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Cancer gives us a slow death. Those stricken by it are offered a rare chance to reflect and contemplate on the more important things in life. Whether it’s cancer or any debilitating illness, let’s choose to remain in faith rather than live in fear for the Bible tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” For those who have loved ones suffering or have suffered a “slow death” by way of cancer, let’s have a Christ-like approach of accepting with confidence that our Savior has and will overcome whatever challenges we have to go through in life and in death.

A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.

For questions and comments, please e-mail me at sbmison@gmail.com.


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