Sabrina Almeida

In addition to disrupting our social and professional lives, the pandemic has resulted in a healthcare crisis that many of us may not even be aware of. Healthcare professionals are worried that the focus on COVID-19 has caused many individuals to avoid diagnostic testing for critical illnesses like cancer.

A recent Leger survey commissioned by Novo Nordisk Canada Inc. found that almost four in ten Canadians (38%), who have been clinically diagnosed with a chronic disease are avoiding the healthcare system altogether during the pandemic.

So a dip in the number of cancer cases, for instance, is no reason to think we’re winning the battle against the dreaded ‘C’ word. In fact, Hamilton Health says a decrease in cancer screenings over the past year could mean there are thousands of undiagnosed and untreated cases in Ontario.

While individuals may think they’re reducing potential health risks by avoiding hospitals, healthcare professionals warn that delaying care can be detrimental.  

Quick diagnosis being critical to any treatment and especially cancer, doctors worry that early stage and pre-cancers that could have been cured or prevented might result in more serious outcomes.

April being dedicated to raising awareness of the debilitating illness, it’s an opportune time to reiterate the importance of cancer screenings in the global effort to prevent and cure it. 

The words ‘you have cancer’ are a life-shattering experience because it feels like death is imminent. But early diagnosis can be the game changer because it allows an individual to put up a fair fight.

Screenings for breast, colorectal and cervical cancer which are amongst the most common in the country give us that opportunity for early detection. Being free of cost in Canada, there’s no excuse for us not to get them.

Statistically, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and second leading cause of death globally. We hope that it’s not going to happen to us but with studies estimating that 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, it’s almost like playing Russian Roulette. 

We all know someone with cancer. 

I’ve lost many dear ones to this  horrible disease and most were diagnosed at advanced stages.

The recent death of a close relative who lost her battle with breast cancer was the hardest to stomach. Not just because she was a loved one but also because the lockdowns and consequent delayed diagnosis seemed to have robbed her of the opportunity to conquer it.

Many Canadians will be seen wearing daffodil pins this month in an expression of solidarity with individuals living with cancer or in remembrance of someone they have lost. Also known as Daffodil Month, the pins help raise funds for cancer research.  

We are told that avoiding tobacco, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active can help reduce our risk of contracting the disease. Being screened regularly is just as important. Healthcare professionals say by the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread and be harder to treat. 

Early detection means  more treatment options and a greater chance of survival. The key is being tested early. 

Screenings give us that fighting chance! Don’t avoid or postpone it! Last year the lives of 187,000 Canadians were profoundly altered by a cancer diagnosis.

 

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