Cancer - A World Cancer Day Initiative By Onco.com

Noun, Proper. /ˈkænsə(r)/

Not to be confused with: Terrorism, Dowry, Misogyny, Climate Change or Corruption

Definition

A group of diseases characterized by rapid growth of abnormal cells in the body, often in the form of a tumor. Cancer is invasive - that is, it can spread to surrounding and distant tissues. (Source: Dictionary.com).

At this point, we want to simplify the definition of cancer to understand which category it falls under, which is often mistaken. Let us state unequivocally for the record, that cancer is a disease. It occurs due to genetic mutations and/or environmental factors, which are purely scientific phenomena. It is not an evil like corruption, terrorism, or misogyny, which it is often compared by eminent personalities including politicians, business tycoons, and celebrities.

"It pains us when people compare Cancer with evils in the society, and we are certain that those who are suffering from this condition, and their loved ones do not feel any better"

#DoNotShameCancer

Cancer is a proper noun for a disease process, and deserves to be treated as such. Cancer deserves the right treatment, shaming won't help. Cancer can be defined and it can be explained. But we'll get to that later.

Cancer
SynonymsMalignant tumor, malignant neoplasm
Source National Cancer Institute
Artwork By Jeanny Kelly
Speciality Oncology
Symptoms Lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, change in bowel movements
Causes Tobacco, obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol, certain infections
Treatment Radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy
Prognosis Average five year survival 66% (USA)
Frequency 90.5 million (2015)
Deaths 8.8 million (2015)

Comparing Cancer With Social Evils

In recent times, across multiple instances, Cancer has been used as a common noun by public figures, prominent politicians, leaders of religious factions, organizations, celebrities from the entertainment industry, journalists and bloggers alike, in their attempts to highlight just how 'evil' some of our social problems are.

Most such comparisons use a common justification technique, claiming that a particual social evil has a tendency to 'spread' just like Cancer does. We do not wish to dilute or undermine the significance of evils that haunt society; However, it is equally important to acknowledge that Cancer is a unique problem and a proper noun. Using the word 'Cancer' to instill public fear should be denounced as a practice, because unlike social evils, Cancer is not contagious, does not spread within society as a whole, and cannot be solved by the combined willpower of the entire world's population.

What Cancer really needs, is timely intervention at the right stage by the right doctor, leading to the right treatment. We encourage you to examine the evidence that we have submitted in the form of social comparison charts, distinguishing cancer from each social evil that it has been compared to. We also ask you to take a pledge with us to #TreatCancerProperly, and to share this link with all your friends and loved ones, to show your support.

Cancer = Terrorism?

When it comes to Terrorism, nobody really understands it, do they? Everybody has a different view towards the actions of a few desperately motivated individuals, and the usual process of analyzing terrorism involves accusing specific population groups classified by race, religion, or social belief systems. Terrorism, at its very core, is a cowardly byproduct of a misplaced sense of revenge. Terrorists often use violence as a one-size-fits-all weapon to target civilians who have little to nothing to do with the original ‘cause’ as seen by terrorists. So if you really think about it, terrorism can be defined, but it can never be Explained. Sadly, its roots run deep in today’s social order, and it is now commonplace enough to make or break news almost on a daily basis.

But is it a genetic disorder? Absolutely not! Is it as impartial and indiscriminate as cancer, a disease that spares no one? Not in the least! Compared to cancer, Terrorism is an evil of human creation, and selectively chooses its targets for destruction or annihilation. The traditionally accepted responses to terrorism too, are led by violence and marked by a lack of empathy towards perpetrators. Cancer, on the other hand, is a byproduct of evolution itself, predating any act of human intervention. Cancer existed even when humans were yet to form ideas about social inequality. Cancer requires definite forms of treatment, supported by the expertise and empathy of doctors who know exactly what they’re doing to counter the disease, and why they’re doing it. In hindsight, therefore, it really isn’t justified to draw a comparison between Terrorism and Cancer.

On this tenth anniversary of World Cancer Day, we invite you to take a pledge, to acknowledge and appreciate the struggle of those millions who are fighting against cancer, and accepting that our man-made social evils are not the same as cancer, and that Cancer needs to be treated properly.

Cancer = Dowry?

We were very surprised to find an official definition of ‘Dowry’ on the actual Wikipedia portal. It goes something like this: A dowry is a transfer of parental property, gifts or money at the marriage of a daughter. Predating most modern rules of civilization, the roots of this tradition go as far back as ancient Babylon, where doctrines such as the Code of Hammurabi dictated it as a practice.

In addition to boosting gender inequality, Dowry is also a leading factor for economic disparity, often used as a tool to make the rich richer, and to keep a dogmatic and patriarchic social order alive. In the wake of addressing Dowry’s effects on society, many bloggers and journalists often end up comparing "Dowry" with "Cancer". Sounds weird? Just run a Google search on ‘Dowry is Cancer’ and you will be surprised by the number of articles, research papers and white paper publications that have explicitly drawn analogies between what is essentially a disease of genetic origins, and a socially dysfunctional practice that was created by set of people to serve their own interests.

Simply said, if all of society decided today to take a stand and end Dowry, it would end. As for Cancer, one would still need the right doctors to provide the right treatment. A comparison between Dowry and Cancer, then, is really not valid!

On this tenth anniversary of World Cancer Day, we urge you to acknowledge and appreciate the struggle of millions of patients who are fighting Cancer. We invite you to take a pledge to #TreatCancerProperly and stop shaming it by comparing it with social evils like Dowry.

Cancer = Misogyny?

In other instances, the word ‘Cancer’ has been used almost indiscriminately and too liberally, in what appears to be an attempt at establishing just how ‘grave’ a particular social evil is. Recently, Mike Schur, recognized widely as the brains behind the popular TV situational comedy ‘Parks & Recreation’ issued a public apology for the Louis CK sexual allegations fiasco. In doing so, he referred to Louis’s Misogyny as ‘Cancer’. An article about this comparison was published by TIME Magazine!

We have tried to draw out a clear distinction between Misogyny and Cancer, in our accompanying infographic. Having stated that, we also want to highlight that the general theory of any widespread social evil being called ‘Cancer’ just because it ‘spreads’, is flawed. Yes, Cancer can spread inside a human body (a scientific phenomenon known as Metastasis). But it does not propagate through society like repulsive social evils such as Misogyny. Misogyny is a function of individual choices, driven by the misguided personal inclinations of a select few people. Misogyny attracts public ire (as seen vividly during the #MeToo phenomenon, when behemoths like Kevin Spacey and Bill Cosby fell from grace). The subsequent removal of Spacey and the actions taken against other perpetrators, and an outburst of public sentiment against people such as Louis CK did well to serve as a reminder against Misogyny. The same logic does not apply to Cancer. Cancer treatment needs the right doctors, to prescribe the right treatment to each patient at the right time.

Pitting Misogyny against Cancer is the only way to examine and understand how different the two really are. We hope you agree with this distinction, and urge you to take a pledge to #TreatCancerProperly. As we get closer to #WorldCancerDay, we also ask you to invite your friends and loved ones to take this pledge and stop comparing Cancer with social evils.

Cancer = Climate Change?

There is a lot of popular social commentary out there, slamming Cancer as the go-to comparison word for Climate Change - most notably, Bill McQuarrie, who developed a seemingly interesting Haiku that goes ‘Climate Change, Like A Cancer, Grows’ and the Irish Examiner, which compared Climate Change to Cancer before the onset of symptoms.

Let’s get this straight. The world (or the universe, or mother nature… it doesn’t matter what name you choose to address this Darwinian ecosystem that we’re living in) gave us Cancer just like it gave us life, as a natural, scientific phenomenon. We gave it Climate Change. To understand just how grave the differences between Climate Change and Cancer really are, we have drawn up an infographic (See adjoining image) that pits the two against each other in terms of history, visibility, solvability and more. But beyond the specifics, it is important to understand that such non-sensical comparisons end up diluting the significance of both issues at hand. Saying ‘Climate Change is Cancer’ just because they both grow, is like saying ‘Deforestation is dandruff’ just because they both shed; both statements are stupid at the outset!

Addressing a more serious concern, we must try and understand that Cancer is a disease, and deserves to be treated as such. Science has evolved enough to give us clear process indicators on how to tackle Cancer with the right doctors and the right treatment, and solving Cancer requires the participation of the patient, the right experts, and a few loved ones. In contrast, solving Climate Change effectively would need international cooperation at the highest level.

As we approach #WorldCancerDay, we are trying to initiate an open dialogue and urge people not to shame cancer by comparing it with social evils. If you agree with us, we invite you to take a pledge below, to #TreatCancerProperly. We also urge you to share this message with your friends, family and loved ones, to get them to join the cause!

Cancer = Corruption?

Banking on a feeble analogy of Cancer and Corruption both being prone to ‘spread’, many prominent figures have often resorted to label Corruption as ‘A Cancer to society’. Most notably, Pope Francis in a tweet wrote: "Corruption is a cancer to society". As much as we respect the Pope’s views against Corruption, we cannot help but analyze the stark differences between both issues.

Cancer, in the form that we know today, is a disease caused by genetic mutations. Corruption, on the other hand, is a byproduct of human greed, and most definitely a conscious act, driven by choices. Moreover, the analogy that holds such comparisons together is highly flawed. Cancer/Cancerous Cells/Tumors spread via a scientific process called Metastasis, and their action of ‘spreading’ is limited to one human body at a time. Corruption, on the other hand, spreads socially and is contagious. One person’s Cancer does not and cannot, ‘inspire’ others to develop Cancer.

Corruption is a social disorder, and often follows a hierarchical chain as it spreads from leaders to followers, peer-to-peer, in families. Moreover, Corruption is an act of deliberate damage to society. Any person responsible for personal or social corruption is consciously engaging in the act of spreading corruption around themselves. The same does not hold true for Cancer! Lastly, if we were to draw an approximation of the number of people needed to effectively solve corruption, any number less than the entire world’s population would fall short. On the other hand, an effective solution to Cancer is solely dependent on the right treatment, meted out by the right doctors at the right stage. Our verdict, supported by the adjacent infographic, is that Corruption is a much worse evil, and Cancer deserves better!

As we get closer to the 10th edition of #WorldCancerDay, we invite you and your friends, family and loved ones to join hands and stop shaming cancer. If you are with us, we urge you to take a pledge below, to #TreatCancerProperly and to share this link with all your loved ones!

What is common between Corruption, Dowry, Climate Change, Misogyny and Terrorism?

They are direct outcome of how our society thinks and functions. This is exactly why the world refers to them as social evils and not diseases.

"Ever heard someone calling Terrorism a flu? No. Because these social evils are not diseases."

Similarly, Cancer is not a social problem. In fact, it has nothing to do with society whatsoever. The fact that cancer is potentially fatal, is probably the only analogy that social architects have chosen to be glib about, when comparing social decisions (yes, we are calling them decisions now) to a disorder that occurs as a natural phenomenon. We are not denying the pain, or the trauma faced by those affected by these social evils. But, let us compare that to the plight of someone who has just been served with a confirmed diagnosis for cancer - say person A.

Now shift your focus to someone who is a confirmed victim of corruption. This, is person B.

Can person A just 'choose to stand up, accept the glory of battling his/her problem, and defeat the problem based on willpower alone'? Ask an oncologist, and they'll tell you that you couldn't have been farther than the truth. You see, the only thing that can solve cancer is receiving the right treatment.

Now apply this logic to person B. The victim of corruption. We rest our case.

Social Evils Require Mass Participation To Eradicate

When it comes to a problem caused by the choices of multiple humans, the entire population of the world gets affected. Sometimes, the effects of a specific evil are restricted to a segment of society (e.g. You could say that Corruption affects those who are poor) - but that is still a sizeable number. Essentially, each social evil ends up affecting billions of people around the globe. And the converse is true too; It will take a combined effort from the entire population of planet earth to conclusively defeat Corruption or Misogyny or any other social problem.

Cancer is Different

It Just Needs The Right Attention From The Right People.

Each case of cancer is unique and affects just one person - the patient. And in order to solve this problem, you just need few amazing doctors (multispeciality tumor board), scientific treatment planning, an adequate treatment delivery center, and loved ones by your side. You don't need the entire world to rally for a solution. You do not need social intervention.

World Cancer Day

This year, February 4th will witness the 10th edition of International World Cancer Day, as designated by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in 2008. They commemorated this annual event to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, which was also drafted the same year.

This annual event aims to increase awareness about cancer, and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment around the world. The UICC aimed to try and minimize the actual cancer incidence and fatality numbers against the projections drawn til the year 2020 by establishing. International World Cancer Day. Another prime objective of this commemoration is to debunk misinformation, and reduce popular stigmas against cancer. Every year, 4th February brings multiple Cancer care organizations and socially driven foundations together, to run initiatives that can empathjize with and support those affected by cancer.

Often, cancer support groups and like-minded individuals/organizations also run petitions targeted at government and administrative bodies around the world, to drive them into action and seek their unified support against Cancer.

The purpose of Onco.com's #TreatCancerProperly campaign is to encourage more people to remain empathetic towards the plight of millions of cancer-affected patients around the world, and to acknowledge that Cancer is not a social evil. With this campaign, we invite empathetic global citizens to come together and pledge to #TreatCancerProperly.