Translator: Sarah El_Gayyar
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney
By a show of hands,
how many of you are cancer survivors
or know someone who’s gone through cancer?
Are we winning the war?
In 1971, President Richard Nixon
signed the National Cancer Act.
In 40-plus years, we’ve spent
hundreds of billions of dollars
on our ongoing war on cancer.
The National Cancer Institute alone
has spent 95 billion dollars
on cancer research and treatment.
We still have no cure.
Today in America one out of two men
will be diagnosed with cancer.
One out of three women
will be diagnosed with cancer.
And one out of four Americans
will lose their life to cancer.
I became a statistic in 2010.
I received a phone call that no one wants
to get and heard those three words:
You have cancer.
I stood in my kitchen
shocked in disbelief.
I looked fine.
I felt healthy; I was actually heading out
the door to go to the gym.
35 years old and diagnosed
with prostate cancer.
Often considered an older man’s cancer.
I get asked all the time,
“Why were you screened
for prostate cancer?”
I mean it’s not recommended that
you get tested until you’re 55 years old.
It was an accident.
I’d gone to get an annual physical,
which I never did.
And the doctor drew blood.
He said, “You’re fine, but I would
encourage you to go to a urologist.
Your testosterone levels are slightly low,
not too low, but just a little low;
could be from stress, from poor diet,
So I went to a urologist
and the urologist drew blood
and confirmed that I had slightly
low testosterone levels,
but no big deal.
We’ll give you a little bit of gel,
you’ll rub it on your shoulder every day
and you know what? Within a matter
of days, I was feeling more energetic.
Within a matter of weeks,
I was getting more muscular,
I was leaning out, I actually
liked that testosterone gel.
But the lab ran a test that
had not been ordered,
a prostate-specific antigen test.
I got a phone call a few weeks later.
The nurse said,
“We think there was a mistake but
we need you to come back and retest.”
And I did.
The numbers went up more.
I had a biopsy and that’s what led
to my diagnosis of prostate cancer.
So now I had to look at treatment options.
What was I to do?
The first doctor I saw said, “Well,
we need to remove your prostate.”
But what are the side effects of that?
Nine months to maybe a year
of sexual dysfunction,
perhaps permanent sexual dysfunction,
loss of control of your bladder.
Do I have another option?
This doctor over here said,
“You have the option of being
on active surveillance
because your prostate cancer
is a low-grade low-volume cancer.
It’s contained and we can watch it.
You can have quarterly
blood tests, annual biopsies.”
So, in other words for me,
it was a ticking time bomb
because there’s no guarantee
that in between blood tests that
it could become more aggressive
and escape the prostate and start
spreading all in my body.
I was faced with some difficult choices,
I went home and I started researching,
I was digging, I wanted other options
and I read a book by a doctor
in New York City
and I flew to meet him face to face.
I said, “So, you believe
that I can control
the progression of the cancer
that’s inside of me
by radically altering my lifestyle
and engaging in stress management?”
I looked at him and I thought
he was a quack
because I hadn’t heard of that before.
And he said, “You know, all these years,
the way that you’ve been eating,
your lifestyle habits
have not been conducive to living
an anti-cancer lifestyle.”
You know when I think about it,
by the time I was 35 years old
I’d had 35 to 40 thousand meals
with hormones, antibiotics,
genetically modified, highly processed.
That’s not even including the high-salt,
high-fat, high-sugar foods.
Also, contributors to chronic health
conditions and cancers.
Now I asked him about
the environmental factors.
Remember that little bit of gel
I rubbed on my shoulders,
every morning and just like that it
changed my body from the inside out.
I asked the doctor what about
all those chemicals
and the antiperspirant
I’ve been putting under my arm
day after day, year after year?
What about, I live down in Houston, Texas?
What about the bug repellent
that I put on my skin?
What does that do to my body
day after day, summer after summer?
Have you ever thought about that?
Yeah, shaving cream, aftershave, body
spray, the makeup that you wear all day.
because we’re finding more
and more research is telling us
that a lot of these products have
that are ubiquitous in everything,
and they’re linked to cancers.
You see, we have a big problem;
cancer has become our new normal
and that’s not acceptable.
And we must change our strategy
in the war on cancer
and have a greater emphasis
on cancer prevention
because the National Cancer Institute,
the American Cancer Society,
and the American
Association of Cancer researchers
say that more than half
of all cancers are preventable.
Some suggest even up to 70 and 80%.
Did you know that?
Did you know that only one out of every
ten cancer cases is due to genetics?
NCI, ACS they all say only
five to ten per cent of cancers
are due to inherited genetic mutation.
Only five to ten per cent are genetic.
We just observed national prostate
cancer awareness month in September.
You wouldn’t know that
because the media failed us all.
They didn’t do any stories on
prostate cancer prevention,
chemicals that contribute to cancer,
younger and younger men
that are getting cancer.
No, instead the media focused on
Real Housewives of New Jersey
Teresa Giudice possibly going to jail.
Kim Kardashian’s new baby.
30,000 dads, husbands, brothers and sons
will die to prostate cancer this year.
It’s the most commonly diagnosed
male cancer in America
and we see it in younger and younger men.
Again I was diagnosed at 35.
I met a mother last year who
had lost her son at age 36.
And I was just in New York City and met
someone diagnosed at age 29.
And this month is we observe
breast cancer awareness month.
Of course, we are all aware of that,
we see the pink everywhere.
Again we continue to see that cancer being
diagnosed in younger and younger ladies.
A friend of mine just finished
her third round of chemo,
felt healthy, 28 years old.
My buddy’s wife, thank God she’s with
us today, diagnosed at age 27.
After my diagnosis and as I started
traveling the country and speaking,
I realized something,
and it was a glaring something that
I wanted to do something about.
You see September and October, prostate
and breast cancer awareness months,
you see hundreds of thousands
of individuals out there
that are enlisted as
an army of fundraisers.
But here’s the question that I have:
Are we missing an opportunity here?
What good does it do
to have a young man in high school,
in college in his 20s and 30s
become aware of prostate cancer,
when he won’t get screened
till he’s 55 years old?
Or a girl in high school, in college
she won’t have the recommended
mammogram till she’s 40.
Why aren’t these individuals
with the knowledge of cancer prevention?
That’s what is missing right now.
We can save lives right now
because each day, right now
this today 5,000 Americans
will be diagnosed with cancer.
1,600 will die today and we could be
saving lives right now.
It’s why I founded
a nonprofit organization,
not to compete with anyone
but to be another voice
in this war on cancer
to shake things up,
to ruffle some feathers
because my intention is to create
an army of activists that are out there,
a younger generation
that wherever they live –
Portland, Miami, Boston, Victoria –
I want them to ask these questions:
What are the chemicals
in the air I’m breathing?
What about what’s coming out
of my water and where I live?
Because you know there are certain areas
that have a disproportionately
high numbers of cancer rates.
What’s going on around there?
Is there a refinery down there
that’s dumping toxic waste?
We’re missing the message of prevention.
We’re missing reaching
a younger generation,
and empowering them and educating them.
Big national cancer center,
about a year ago,
asked me to meet with another
big national cancer non-profit
and we had lunch, a representative.
And this national nonprofit
has so much reach
and power and they raise a lot of money.
They said, “You know Gabe,
we admire what you’re doing,
we really couldn’t do that.”
and I said, “Why you couldn’t do that?”
“Well, you know it’s more
about having a good time,
we try to get people there,
we raise money, goes off to research.”
We’ve got to change the conversation
because we’ve been having the same
conversation for 40-plus years.
It’s not all about money,
though since I’ve gotten into this ,
it seems like a lot of it is.
So what can we do?
What can you do? What can I do?
Dig research, become educated,
get on the internet,
look at the word “carcinogen,”
understand what those cancer-causing
agents are that are all around you,
look up the word “cancer-prevention.”
start studying that,
become curious about that.
We’ve got some great cancer prevention
advocates on the forefront,
doctors like Dean Ornish, Margaret Cuomo,
Lorenzo Cohen, Gordon Sax,
Go read their books,
read their articles, YouTube them.
I’m a visual person; I learned so much
by going on YouTube and watching
what these doctors say
are things to stay away from
things that you should start
eating more of,
or better body care products,
but then, once you start becoming more
knowledgeable and educated,
it’s your responsibility
and it’s my responsibility
to share that with family and friends.
At no other time in our war on cancer
have we had the opportunity
like we have right now with social media.
Just like that.
We can disseminate information,
get instant feedback.
When you see a product that you
find that has harmful ingredients,
Instagram it, share that.
When you find something
that you think is better,
do the same.
We have the opportunity
to make a huge difference.
We must seize this opportunity right now.
Support those companies with your dollars,
those companies that are
transparent with their labeling
those companies that don’t
have those questionable chemicals.
Finally, follow the money.
Follow the money.
With your legislators,
with the talking heads.
I can’t tell you how many times
I’ve listened to a talk show host;
a TV personality who completely rebuts
the message of cancer prevention
says that none of that stuff is true.
Look at who their advertisers are,
look at who sponsors them,
look who’s in bed with who.
When it comes to your legislators,
when it comes to your elected officials,
vote on those issues that protect us.
Who are they for?
Are they for them?
The few who line their pockets
to protect their interests,
or are they for us to protect us
and our well-being and our health?
Again, one out of two will be diagnosed;
one out of two men
and one out of three women.
Every day I get phone calls and emails
from people all over the country
who are about to lose someone or who
are going through the journey themselves.
I do it for them.
We should all do it for each other.
We owe it to ourselves and those
who’ve lost their lives to cancer.
We owe it to our children
and our grandchildren.
And I ask that you join me
in changing the conversation.