It was midmorning when the call came. Glancing down at my cell phone, I could see the doctor was calling with lab results. “Good morning!” I answered, expecting to hear that everything was fine.
But everything was not fine. “The test results came back ‘suspicious,’ ” I heard him say. “Suspicious”—I could finish the unspoken thought—for cancer.
Cancer was no stranger to our family. My grandmother, grandfather, two uncles, and an aunt, had all received that diagnosis; and all but one of them died from the disease. Was it now my turn?
In 2012 it was estimated that 1,638,910 people in the U.S. would be diagnosed with some form of cancer, and approximately 577,190 Americans were expected to die from cancer that year.1 By the time a person in the United States has reached the age of 70, men face a one in three chance of contracting the deadly disease, and for women the odds are one in four.2
Risk of False Security
Of course, for Seventh-day Adventists the odds are somewhat better. Research has shown that Adventists live on average 10 years longer than the general population, because of our healthy lifestyle of vegetarianism, exercise, rest, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, etc.3 This lifestyle is also known to reduce the risk of various diseases, including cancer.
Unfortunately, these facts can sometimes lead to a false sense of security, tempting us to think that if we just eat right and live healthfully we won’t get any serious disease, especially cancer. Then if we are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the first question we (or others) often ask is “What did I do wrong?”
Ice Cream and Cancer
Such was the case with Ann,4 who at the age of 79 was facing cancer. Filled with worry and guilt, Ann called her longtime friend Fred Hardinge, a registered dietitian and doctor of public health who serves as an associate director of the Health Ministries Department at the General Conference.
“I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer,” she told Hardinge. “Do you think this was because Continue Reading…