Fighting Cancer With Healthy Resolutions
28 December 2011
As the New Year approaches, the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division, challenges Islanders to play an active role in fighting cancer.
“We have found the cure to 30% of deaths resulting from cancer - that cure is to stop smoking. The challenge, of course, is implementing it.“ says Lori Barker, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division.”
Reducing smoking is the most significant means available to prevent cancer. Medical evidence shows smoking causes about 30 percent of cancer deaths in Canada. On Prince Edward Island, approximately 100 people will die this year as a result of cancers related to tobacco use.
It is well known that smoking damages your health and can even kill you. Yet about 20,000 Islanders (16% of the population) continue to smoke as a result of the highly-addictive substance. In addition, because the impact on a person’s health is not immediately apparent, smokers may be in denial about the harm caused by tobacco smoke.
Doctors see the evidence every day. “I'll often ask my patients what it would take to seriously consider quitting smoking; stroke, heart attack or cancer? Unfortunately, once one of these happens, the horse is out of the barn. Now your problems have escalated,” says Charlottetown physician Dr. Andrew Wohlgemut. As a family practitioner, Wohlgemut sees the wide range of problems smoking causes. His advice remains constant: “It doesn't matter how long you have been a smoker. The single best thing you can do in 2012 is quit.”
Sixty percent of smokers claim they want to quit this year and the Canadian Cancer Society is keen to help every one of them achieve their goal. While some people are successful going cold turkey, most smokers find it extremely challenging and are most successful when they develop a plan tailored to them. The latter was the case for Emma Boswell.
“I can say that it is certainly an ongoing battle, and I've come to accept that it is one that will continue getting easier, but never actually end, “ says Boswell. The 26-year-old university student from Victoria. P.E.I. gave up smoking last summer. “The hardest part is the little voice that's always telling me that ‘one puff’ or ‘one cigarette’ won't hurt. That I'll have the will power to not have more. But from what other people have told me who have tried quitting and not been successful, that is exactly the trap I need to avoid.”
After more than 10 years of smoking, Boswell is enjoying the benefits of being tobacco free. “It is incredibly rewarding to think of the freedom I've gained in my life from quitting; I no longer have to schedule in time for a smoke before I go anywhere, worry about getting in a smoke half-way through a class/meeting/day, or making sure I have my cigarettes with me at all times”
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends smokers begin the process by talking to a healthcare provider or cessation counselor about the options that may be most effective given their specific situation. The Society provides a free counseling service through Smokers’ Helpline. Guidance and advice is given in a non-judgmental way to individuals trying to quit smoking and to others trying to support individuals on this journey. Smokers’ Helpline can be reached by calling 1-877-513-5333 or by registering on-line at www.smokershelpline.ca
“Quitting smoking is not something we suggest you do on a whim at midnight on New Year’s Eve,” says Barker. “It usually requires a plan on how to handle the challenges of severing an addiction to nicotine. It requires changes in your daily routine so you don’t fall back into the habit of lighting a cigarette when you want a break or are feeling stressed. It’s advisable to use all the resources available to help you win the battle.”
The best New Years resolution you can make is to take action to improve your health in 2012. Quitting smoking can make a big difference to your health and the health of your family. It’s an important step toward living well.
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.