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Healthy living the theme for Harvest event
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Healthy Monday
Every Monday The Times looks at topics affecting your health. If you have a topic or issue you would like to see covered in our weekly series, contact senior content editor e-mail Edie Rogers.

Living well is the best prevention.

That’s the theme of this year’s “Harvest of Hope,” a free program for cancer patients, cancer survivors and their families sponsored by the Longstreet Cancer Center.

This year’s program will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center and features a panel discussion on healthy living, cooking demonstration, yoga workshop and keynote address from Nichole Hancock, founder of breast cancer advocacy group Shades of Pink.

The event usually attracts between 125 and 200 people, with a goal of providing support and encouraging networking among cancer patients and survivors. To that end, this year 15 short testimonial videos called “messages of hope” will be on display, with the opportunity for attendees to record their own personalized messages if they want.

In the videos, cancer survivors “talk about how they handled the news that they got cancer, and the chemotherapy and the side effects and the shock and the fear and how the dealt with that,” said Dr. Anup Lahiry, an oncologist at Longstreet and one of the event’s organizers. “It’s about positive thinking and learning from other people how to face the difficult journey.”

Lahiry said the theme of “living well” addresses all the ways to prevent cancer or its recurrence by paying closer attention to what we eat, how often we exercise and how we live.

Only 10 to 15 percent of cancers are hereditary, and the rest are caused by things people have control over, like smoking, alcohol consumption and other risky behaviors, Lahiry said.

Lahiry is blunt in saying, “winning the war against cancer is kind of a distant dream, at least in my lifetime. So if we know we can’t win the war with cancer, why pick a fight with it?”

Lahiry said the lifestyles of Americans have become so unhealthy that the 21st century will mark the first time children will not live as long as their parents did. Obesity from processed foods, too much meat consumption and sedentary lifestyles will kill more people than cancer, he said.

Lahiry said that many of his patients continue in the bad habits that got them cancer in the first place.

“It’s difficult for them to change their lifestyles,” he said. “I’m not taking away from the treatment, but you can never help the patient if they don’t help themselves.

“So, we’re going to stress those things, being accountable for your own health. The old cliche that prevention is better than the cure is a true thing.”

Harvest of Hope is open to anyone affected by cancer and is free of charge. A fundraising gala that helps pay for the event and two other local cancer causes will be held Oct. 23 at the Chattahoochee Country Club. For more information, call 770-533-6593.