Fighting back: Cancer outcomes improve with early detection

I hate cancer. I know every person reading this either knows someone or loves someone touched by this plague.

I recently attended the annual Indiana Cancer Consortium, which brings nationally renowned speakers on the topic to the table. The Indiana State Board of Health defines cancer as “a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If the spread is not controlled it can result in death.”

Early detection spared the lives of two people very close to me.

In my own family, cancer has touched the lives of my wife and my brother-in-law. Thankfully, in both cases, the cancer was diagnosed in its early stages.

In my wife’s case it was breast cancer, diagnosed in May 2006. She went through a lumpectomy and radiation treatments. I give credit to Almighty God, who directed a dedicated team of medical professionals to help us with this journey. Larice has been cancer-free for 11 years.

My other family member is Harry, my brother-in-law. Through early detection, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. He was diagnosed in May of 2007. Through surgery and chemotherapy he is now cancer-free.

Another friend of mine, Dave, is going through the nightmare of throat cancer — he’s undergoing radiation treatment. Websites like CaringBridge can help people battling cancer stay connected with family and friends and receive the support they need to get through it.

Statistics show in Indiana we’re making progress in saving lives through early detection of diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer. According to the Indiana Cancer Registry, in 2009, about 113 women per 100,000 were diagnosed with cancer, with a mortality rate of 24.9.

Through early detection we are getting closer to bringing that mortality rate to zero.

I feel like cancer is a dirty word, because it wreaks havoc, not only with the bodies of its hosts, but also with the emotions of the patients, their families and friends. Despite my anger at the disease, I urge everyone to talk to their physicians about early detection, especially if they have a history of cancer in their family.

I also urge you to get involved in the many cancer programs that are available at your state and local area. For example. Did you know that Hancock Regional Hospital has a variety of educational ways to help you? Brandee Bastin, the hospital’s tobacco educator, runs a fantastic smoking cessation program. She has a group of dedicated individuals that help people to quit smoking or to never start. For a period of about five years I was on her executive board. We would take the cancer message to various folks in Hancock County. For example, we would go into the local schools and discuss, with the students, the risks of smoking and using tobacco products.

Cancer is a loathsome disease, but it can be stopped in its tracks when caught early enough. Please make an appointment with either your local physician, your local hospital or contact me and I will help you find the right person to talk to. The American Cancer Society, aka, The Little Red Door, or the Indiana Cancer Consortium has a plethora of available resources to assist you.

C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher, Sugar Creek Township trustee and co-director of the Hancock County Character Council. Send comments to