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Letter to my mum on World Cancer Day

The editor of Cancer Nursing Practice, Lisa Berry, wonders what her mum would have thought about the European Code Against Cancer
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Dear Mum,

There wasnt a World Cancer Day in 1987. Google (sorry, thats kind of a door to a massive electronic library) tells me that was devised in 2000.

There was a European Code Against Cancer though. 12 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk. I read it today and thought of you. Of what you might have made of some of its evidence-based advice. Let me guess...

  • Do not smoke. Theyre only menthol. And I never inhale.
  • If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention. What, not even a Snowball* at Christmas?
  • Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. Does calamine lotion count?
  • In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions. Cancer-causing substances? What, like my boss?
  • Find out if you are
  • ...

    Dear Mum,

    There wasn’t a World Cancer Day in 1987. Google (sorry, that’s kind of a door to a massive electronic library) tells me that was devised in 2000.

    There was a European Code Against Cancer though. 12 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk. I read it today and thought of you. Of what you might have made of some of its evidence-based advice. Let me guess...

    Phyllis Berry

    1. Do not smoke. ‘They’re only menthol. And I never inhale.’
    2. If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention. ‘What, not even a Snowball* at Christmas?’
    3. Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. ‘Does calamine lotion count?’
    4. In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions. ‘Cancer-causing substances? What, like my boss?’
    5. Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels. ‘Move house?’
    6. Take part in organised screening programmes for: Bowel cancer (men and women). 'Oh.'

    Yes, oh. That’s unfair, I know. The NHS bowel cancer screening programme has only been fully running in the UK since 2010: that’s 23 years too late for you. But would you have refused to take part in any case, adding a caustic aside for good measure? I hope not. Especially if you knew that early diagnosis gives the best chance of survival. Or that screening can sometimes prevent cancer developing in the first place.

    This letter’s missed the post, my beautiful, whip-smart mother. (Timekeeping’s not my strong point. I get that from dad.) But it doesn’t matter. I write to you on each day of every year, not just the designated one.

    Love Lisa

    *A Snowball is an alcoholic drink, a mixture of advocaat and lemonade in approximately equal parts.

    Article dedicated to Phyllis Berry, 1942 - 1987.

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