Today, 4 February, countries are coming together on World Cancer Day to fight cancer bydispelling the four major myths about it.
The official website of the World Cancer Day Advisory Group states that cancer is not just a health issue but has wide-reaching social, economic, development, and human rights implications.
It is not a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries but is a global epidemic. It affects all ages and socio-economic groups, with developing countries bearing a disproportionate burden.
Cancer is no longer a death sentence, with many cancers that were once considered so now able to be cured, and for many more people their cancer can be treated effectively.
And finally, cancer should not be considered our fate, and is very often preventable.
Congratulations and our thanks go to the recipient of the Australian of the Year award, Ita Buttrose. She now works tirelessly as a health awareness champion in the area of ageing as well as raising awareness of ways to beat breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Inher acceptance speech, she emphasised the importance of "greater investment in medical research and in the way Australia practises and decides funding for our medical community and researchers".
TheAustralian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) has awarded more than $86 million ($60 million in just the last seven years) to world-class Australian research initiatives. It's very likely that the spending will increase as our nation puts health closer to the top of our priority list.
While the bulk of grants are dedicated to funding research in Australia that has the power to make significant breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis and treatment, there are small pockets of researchers connecting the dots to gaining more of an understanding of the importance of our thoughts on our health and wellbeing.
Leading medical researcher in this field, Dr Harold Koenig, in his review of research on religion, spirituality and health from the late 1800's to 2010, Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications published in ISRN Psychiatry, reports that of the 20 methodologically most rigorous studies on the relationship between religion, spirituality and either the onset or the outcome of cancer (including cancer mortality) 12 found a lower risk or better outcomes.
In Adelaide this coming July, medical and mental health professionals, ethicists, and researchers will come together at theCompassion, Spirituality & Health Conferenceto examine the relationship between spirituality (love, giving and happiness and the impact of compassionate care) on health outcomes.
At past conferences, accounts were given by doctors and patients of the health-giving effects of treatment that embraces the 'whole-person', including recovery from cancers. It seems medical practitioners and researchers don't need to be totally focussed on treating or researching just the physiological aspects of disease, but need to look to other models that consider the importance of our thought. This may well be another myth to dispel for some.