THE BLOG
10/17/2013 07:05 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Love, Loss and Conquering Cancer

I founded Less Cancer a decade ago with a mission to try and stop the causes of cancer that we can control.

When I grew up, it was not unusual to see mothers in my neighborhood wearing wigs or being cared for by nurses. Three of those mothers died of cancer while their children -- my friends -- were still in elementary school. I remember going to my first funeral for a friend's mom when I was in first grade.

Since that time, my mother, sister, brother and brother-in-law and a long list of friends -- have now also died of cancer. Those losses are terribly painful for me. I miss them all every day.

Over time my sadness turned to anger and outrage.

The incidence of cancer was on the rise -- and there was nothing in sight but virtual Band-Aids.

I wished more than anything that there was a treatment that would allow my loved ones to walk away from this dreaded disease.

Science has been steadily chipping away at the problem for more than 100 years. Today, cancer treatment has become a big business. Corporations market and package treatments and cures into something that often resembles a spa more than a hospital.

Cancer treatments are a distant reality from a spa day for those who must endure them to stay alive.

There are many reasons cancer has become ingrained in the landscape of our lives.

The National Institutes of Health first reported in 2008 that each year, more than one million Americans -- and more than 10 million people worldwide -- will receive a cancer diagnosis. But the vast majority of those cancers are preventable.

Only 5 to 10 percent of all cancer cases are caused by genetic defects; the rest have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year globally, 12.7 million people learn they have cancer, and 7.6 million people die from the disease.

We have fought a good fight.

Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, known to many as the "War on Cancer" -- in 1971, and since that time billions have been spent and cancer treatment has progressed -- but still the diagnoses continue to rise.

Preventing cancer is not easy either. Just as there isn't one magic bullet to fix disease, nor is there one to prevent it.

But I often wonder why we don't wage a war on the causes of cancer.

Cancer prevention should be on the top of every corporate spreadsheet.

How would that change the way we do business? What could that do to expand corporate social responsibility?

In the U.S., chemicals are introduced to market with scant understanding of their consequences to human health. It takes a health crisis to prompt regulations. Of course by then, the damage is already done. The cancer comes, the mothers get sick and more young children go to funerals.

Do we really think it's a good idea that there are more than 80,000 chemicals currently registered in the United States that we have little understanding of relative to human health and the environment?

We live in a world where outcomes for human health and the environment clearly have taken a backseat to profit.

I began my crusade against the environmental and lifestyle causes of cancer because I have lost too many people whom I loved.

The odds are you have endured similar losses.

Until we decide this in unacceptable, nothing will change.

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