For some fortunate individuals, cancer is kind of a foreign concept. They obviously know what it is- they hear cancer stories in passing, they may have donated to a charity related to cancer, or worn pink during the month of October. They may even know a few acquaintances who have had cancer. But, if these people have not had cancer themselves, or had a close friend or family member with a cancer diagnosis, they can’t fully understand the illness. For some, this unfamiliarity makes them feel like it could never happen to them. Since they can’t fathom it, they don’t take any special steps to prevent it.
The denial of the possibility of cancer means that these people are much less likely to take preventative measures such as an annual health screening.
As someone who’s dealt with cancer far too many times, Evelyn Diggs wants to use her family’s story to encourage others to take precautionary measures.
Evelyn Diggs says “Early detection is the key surviving cancer.”
Within the Diggs family there have been diagnoses of breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, and prostate cancer. Evelyn’s mother died from cancer, as did 4 of her 8 siblings and one of her nieces.
Evelyn herself was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2010. She underwent chemotherapy, losing her appetite and dropping 40 pounds. She says support from her family is what got her through that time, and in 2011 she was cancer-free.
Unfortunately, in the fall of 2017 she received another cancer diagnosis. This time it was breast cancer. Although only in the first stage, Evelyn decided to have a double mastectomy due to her family history. She is now back to playing with her grandchildren and working part time as a teacher.
The members of the Diggs family who have not had cancer are diligent about being screened once a year as a preventative measure. In addition to health screening, Evelyn also talks about how important it is to frequently check and be familiar with your own body.
No doctor is going to know your “normal” better than you. So if you’re suspicious something is wrong, you should get it checked out. The sooner you notice any abnormality, the sooner you can get it looked at, the faster you can start treatment, and the better the diagnosis will most likely be.
No, cancer doesn’t happen to everyone. But if something as simple as a health screening could completely alter your experience with the illness, its worth it to be proactive.
You can read Evelyn and her family’s full story here, and how cancer has affected their lives.