Cancer is uncomfortable to talk about. It brings up feelings that are hard for us to describe, much less deal with: fear, anxiety, sadness, loss, guilt.
I really don’t know how else to say it – cancer sucks. I hate cancer.
We all know a co-worker, a friend, or a loved one who has battled or is battling cancer. And I know we all feel the same: we want to do all we can to help support those who must face a battle with this terrible and terrifying disease.
With a little luck – and a treatment regimen that requires courage and stamina – sometimes those who face cancer can win the fight. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, we lose one of those people who mean so very much to us.
On March 9, 2015, we lost Larry Grafft to complications resulting from his battle with cancer. Larry was my co-worker and a friend who spent his entire 30-year career serving Mendocino County. He was a firefighter, SWAT team medic, and law enforcement officer who rose to the rank of Assistant Chief within the CAL FIRE organization. Larry was known as a go-to guy, a guy who got things done, a guy we all were proud to call a friend.
One thing I know Larry would want people to know is that many cancer deaths can be prevented by avoiding tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and MOST IMPORTANTLY getting regular health screenings.
Cancer screenings increase the chance of detecting certain cancers early, when they are most likely to be curable. The American Cancer Society has published recommendations about when to schedule appropriate screenings, and how these screenings may be covered under some types of medical insurance. Before certain cancers grow too big or spread throughout the body, medical technology has the edge. Chances for survival are excellent. To learn more, visit: www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/index
While we cannot stop one of the biggest risk factors for cancer (aging), we can do a lot to prevent cancer. If you are under age 55, at least you can feel a little better since the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center says that 75 percent of cancers are found in people aged 55 or older.
No matter how old we are, we can and should take important steps to reduce our risk of cancer. Although there is no way to guarantee that you or your loved ones won't get cancer, be aware that one-third of cancer incidents are linked to diet and physical activity, and another third are caused by tobacco products. These are things you can control!
So please, watch what you eat, take a walk, be active, watch your exposure in the sun, and STOP using tobacco.
If you (or someone you love) are diagnosed with cancer, you will need some help, and there is no better place to start than the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County www.crcmendocino.org
Sara O’Donnell and her staff are the very best, and they have an office in Ukiah and on the coast to give you the information, resources, and the emotional support you’ll need. These services are free of charge and can help you find answers to your questions and learn what you need to know to make informed decisions.
Cancer sucks – I really know no other way to say it.
We have all lost loved ones, friends, and co-workers to this terrible disease, and we know many more who are struggling each and every day to win their fight with cancer.
If you haven’t lately, talk with your doctor and get checked. And please, nag-nag-nag your loved ones until they get screened too.
If you know someone fighting cancer, please tell them how important they are to you; tell them you are there to help in any way you can, because we all need as much support we can get while we’re struggling to win the war against cancer.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.