A week ago today I watched my father die of colon cancer. He was given about 4 months to live at the time of diagnosis, when the disease was already advanced and had spread to surrounding organs, but he held on for just over 2 years. He was about 3 weeks shy of his 68th birthday.
Needless to say, this past week has not been easy, nor were the weeks leading up to his death as it was clear he was quickly losing the battle. While it is all over now, it is frustrating to know that he could have had a much better chance of fighting it had he switched to a plant-based whole foods diet. But he would not. He never ate much other than meat, and his faith told him god had created animals for our consumption. How then could they be bad for your health?
I read The China Study just a few months ago and knew the role animal protein plays in feeding cancers, but he was in no state to receive this information. He continued to eat mainly meat even after his diagnosis. It was frustrating to watch as I had to stand helplessly by to watch him slip away. He read some information about natural health near the end, but mainly the type encouraging the supplementation of one's diet with special vitamins and formulae. And neither doctors nor nurses, being ill trained in matters of nutrition and working in a system that ultimately profits from people's illnesses, did anything to dissuade him from his meat-centered diet. In fact, his nurse recommended that he eat some of his favourite meat-based soups.
Given that the disease is hereditary as well, his mother having died of it before him, I am currently undergoing colon cancer screening myself. I might as well work towards early detection. But I know that my veganism at least means that I have a much better chance of preventing and, should I get it, fighting it.
It is not easy, still, losing a parent.