Alertness, early care key in treatment of cancer

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist

This column is in memory of Gary, Chris, Fran and many others. It is dedicated also to Frances, and to Buddy, and to Dorothy, to Pat, and to a large group of people who are battling, at many levels, with cancer.

It is, in a unique way, appropriate to Valentine’s Day because it is about love — loving yourself, loving your family, loving your friends and loving your life.

For the sake of that love, pay attention to your body and what it tells you.

The lump in the breast. The mole or skin blemish that changes and won’t go away. The bruise that won’t heal. The persistent and untreatable cough. The acid reflux that is damaging your esophagus. These and many other pieces are indications of trouble. If they go untreated — if you ignore them in the belief that they will go away — you may find they have gotten out of control.

Early detection, and preventative care, are key to surviving and thriving.

If you read this column on a regular basis, you know that every so often we broach the subject no one wants to talk about: cancer. That is due to my own encounter with it; this week, celebrating the fourth year since the end of my chemo and radiation treatments, we will focus on prevention/early detection.

Pay attention to what is going on with your body. It is that complex, and that simple. I am not a medical person, so it is not possible for me to list the warning signs of various types of cancers. You may, however, contact the American Cancer Society for better guidance.

You may also attend Relay for Life and get some information. If anything is making you suspicious, though, you better not wait that long.

In May of 2001, while I was teaching at Three Way schools, we were between the two games of an after-school baseball doubleheader. As I tried to eat my steak sandwich, I found that it would not go down. That was the first sign of trouble.

I still regret that I messed around for most of the summer going to a doctor who did not have any clue as to what he was dealing with. My life was doubtless saved by switching doctors. Lesson: Seek the best medical attention, which is going to vary depending on your symptoms. Use the Internet. Educate yourself.

That leads to a final aspect: Don’t let fear push your panic button, drive you into hiding, and rob you of precious time. Of course you don’t want to admit that you might have cancer (or for that matter, any serious illness.)

Look at it this way; if you go into hiding, deny the symptoms, and make it “come after you,” you lose time that could, literally, become a matter of life and death. On the other hand, you may find out all the sooner there is nothing to worry about. Won’t that be a load off your mind?

So for Valentine’s Day, take care of yourself. If anything is making you suspicious, follow up on it.

I mean, if you guys don’t stay healthy, who’s going to read my columns?

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: