October is breast cancer month and each year, the Susan G Komen Foundation through strong advertising campaigns, manages to get just about everyone to wear something pink for breast cancer awareness. Health centers will give away free mammograms and hand out breast exam cards. At our church, our cancer care ministry will sponsor a “Worship in Pink” to encourage our members to be aware of the risks of cancer and to celebrate cancer survivors. During the month of October, the color pink is everywhere and I typically will get my own mammogram during this month because the local Breast center gives great gifts to their patients all month. They also encourage you to bring a friend.
Our church has been severely impacted by cancer, therefore a few years ago my husband and I desired to gain knowledge in how to minister to those affected by cancer. We were invited to attend the Our Journey Of hope (OJOH) Cancer Care Leadership Training seminar at the Cancer Treatment Center of America’s Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The training was a biblically-based, comprehensive cancer care ministry training program designed to equip pastors and church leaders with tools to effectively minister to those impacted by cancer. During the two-day training session, we along with other pastors and ministry leaders immersed ourselves in the spiritual and practical methods of bringing hope, care and comfort through cancer care ministry. We also received ministry insights for addressing the specific spiritual needs of those battling cancer and their caregivers.
The Susan G Komen Foundation’s whose mission is to “save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer” documents the following statistics from the National Cancer Institute for 2016:
In recent years, incidence rates have been stable in white women, but have increased slightly in African American women. At this time there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. (This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.)
What causes cancer? The precise causes of breast cancer are unclear but The American Cancer Society does list aging and family history as significant factors. The most common risk factors besides age include; alcohol consumption, being exposed to cancer causing substances, diet, hormones, obesity, sunlight and tobacco.
Some studies have been conducted to determine if there is a relationship between stress and the incidence of cancer. Apparent links between psychological stress and cancer could arise in several ways. For example, people under stress may develop certain behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, or drinking alcohol, which increase a person’s risk for cancer. In 2008, a group of Israeli scientists studied a group of women under 45 years old. They found that young women who had endured two or more traumatic life events had a higher than average rate of depression and greater vulnerability to breast cancer. The younger a woman was when a crisis hit, the greater their risk for cancer.
Dr. Michael S. Barry, author of The Forgiveness Project: The Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace asks the question: Is there a relationship between the insidious disease of cancer and the sinister, life-threatening emotion of hatred? Based upon his work as the retired leader of the pastoral care department at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, he has concluded: “The stress of unforgiveness negatively affects the immune system. Forgiveness, on the other hand, has an immediate, wholesome effect and long-term benefit in strengthening the immune system and positively affecting the healing process.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Therefore it is important that we learn the risk factors for cancer and change our lifestyle and behaviors accordingly. Here are some suggestions for cancer prevention:
Lastly, the bible teaches us not to worry. Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Blessings & Health,
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach