By HDN Editorial Board
Cancer has its ugly tentacles so snuggly wrapped around us that we've all felt the tightness in the chest, the grip on the heart, the terrible pain of loss of possibilities or life itself.
Look around and try to find someone you know who has been spared the pain that it brings. We all know someone who has battled with cancer. Many of us know people who have lost the battle.
We think there's not much we can do. Yet we can. We can stop smoking. We can tell the young people around us that it's not OK to smoke. We can stop excessive consumption of alcohol and we can demonstrate to our children that it's not OK to drink.
We can stop using smokeless tobacco. We can eat better. We can exercise. We can make a determined effort to not indulge in self-destructive behavior that can shorten our lives and cause unnecessary grief to those who love us.
We can fight those who want to increase air pollution and those who would reduce the quality of our drinking water. We can insist that money spent on cancer research not only examine possible cures but also causes. If pollutants and chemicals cause cancer, then we have a right to know that.
You have a chance to do your part Saturday with the Relay for Life. You can pledge money to those who have decided to field walking teams all night long at the Havre High School track. You can participate by buying luminaries in honor or memory of loved ones who have battled cancer.
Similar events are staged all over the country by the American Cancer Society.
The money helps. But more importantly, this event raises awareness about cancer.
Many cancers can be successfully defeated with early detection monthly self-exams for breast cancer, mammograms, colonoscopies, routine screenings for prostate cancer, just to name a few ways we can check our health.
How many times have we read the same thing but didn't follow the advice.
We all know or have heard of people who have saved themselves from certain death because they found their cancer early. We know people who have suffered through the treatment that weakens the body as it battles the disease, and have survived, grateful in ways that most of can't imagine for their own recovery.
Many of us know people who died despite every precaution, despite every treatment. They often died deaths of intense agony, gripped by a delusional state and a pain that only morphine could lessen. Their deaths still hold us. Their despair is not forgettable.