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Cancer and Sustainability Society
When I was nine, I experienced the worst heartbreaking day of my uncle’s family: his daughter, Bo Cau, died due to blood cancer. “What is cancer?” I questioned, “and why did this cost my uncle most of his saving for Bo Cau’s hospital bills.” Bo Cau’s death motivated me to learn more about cancer, especially blood cancer. Cancer is a type of disease characterized by growth of harmful spreading tumors or cells. It is an disease and an ordeal that negatively impacts the national economy, emotionally depresses society, and it is also highly correlated with the environmental non-genetic factors.
Cancer is a financial burden to society. An example of how cancer negatively impacts society is how cancer caused a financial setback to Bo Cau’s family. For example, my uncle had to spend his weekly salary for each visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, they had to go for at least 12 doctor visits along with prescriptions before the day Bo Cau gave us an emergency signal. “My entire body is cold, sore, my stomach is burning, I can’t breathe…” uttered Bo Cau in a fragile desperate low tone. Immediately, the family drove her to the hospital room hoping it is not too late. The big red flashing light on top of its front door signals the battle between life and death, along with the loss of money. In addition to the emotional heartache, my uncle had to borrow a total of $4,000 just to pay all the medical fees such as: blood, medical team, emergency room, etc…$4,000 is so much for $150 monthly income of Bo Cau’s family at the time! On a larger
scale, this translates to a big percentage of GDP. For example, the higher hospital admission rates for colorectal cancers (CRC) stimulated economic cost in Brazil from 1996 to 2008 according to Torres US, Almeida TEP and Netinho JG. Specifically, spending for CRC in 2008 reached 203.03% of $ 16.5 million in 1996. Besides the loss limiting the economical choices, cancer could also emotionally take down every individual of family involved.(Torres)
The emotional effects of cancer can be seen through the depression of a family with a cancer patient. If the parents don’t feel sad when their kid complains about the bitter at every meal, and don’t feel stunned, gloomy and miserable when the kid wakes up from a coma to tell them her last words before she closes her eyes forever: “I love you so much, Mom! I love you so much, Dad!”, then the word depression has no meaning. At that time, the strong mental smell distributed from Bo Cau’s favorite pink towel held in her hand is faded because of tears and a runny nose. Essentially, research on curing cancer became a great topic in an effort to reduce pain and maintain happiness for this group of victims. As a result, there are numerous findings about how to cure certain types of cancer forever, which means the sickness is completely gone, not that the cancer cells are suppressed by chemotherapy as pointed out by Sharon Begley in her Newsweek article called “Curing Cancer”. In her research for Newsweek, she emphasizes the treatment with chemo drugs and radiation is different on an individual basis. Moreover, adults only have a 30-40% chance of surviving, much less than kids with same sickness, since kids keep up with treatment schedules better with the supervision of their parents. All these treatments are complicated, pricy and could be economically reduced by finding cancer’s cause and staying