You've probably heard these numbers before: one in two and one in three. As in, one in two women and one in two men will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.
Now there’s a new one: developing cancer in the UK is now more common than getting married, or having a first baby, or being awarded a degree from university, according to a report by Macmillan Cancer Support
. In fact, in 2015 there were 70,000 more new cancers cases than new marriages.
Marriage hasn't been on the decline in the U.K., though -- in fact, there was an increase of 2.7% in marriage rates
from 2013 to 2014. So, what does this mean? It means that cancer is increasingly becoming a more common "life milestone."
While it's true that the likelihood of developing cancer increases with a prolonged exposure to carcinogens and an accumulation of cell mutations
, it's time we start accepting the reality of cancer in our lives today. In fact, around 35% of cancer cases are diagnosed in people younger than 65 years, including more than 2,000 children and teenagers every year.
So yes, cancer is more common than marriage in the UK. But dying
of cancer is not. Macmillan also found that cancer has become more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, which is what they want this report to demonstrate. One of the most important prevailing statistics is this:
85% of people with cancer do not want the disease to define them
Although it does undeniably impact your life course, the fact that we will be living with cancer means that we have some more control in how far that impact reaches. Macmillan found that almost everyone (90%) of people living with cancer feel as normal as possible. As Macmillan nurse Fiona Charman says, "Life with cancer is still [your] life -- the important things aren't just swept away by [your] diagnosis. Life shouldn't have to grind to a halt just because you've been diagnosed with cancer."
We couldn't agree more. Our life with cancer can be just that -- a part, not the whole.
Do you also think of cancer as a "life milestone"? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez.