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COMMENT: Only YOU can prevent cancer now!

The days are numbered for ye olde brown mop on this bedraggled head. On holy oath, the mane is sworn to be shorn at the Apr. 28 roller derby doubleheader at the Rossland Arena, bic'd to skin to support the good work of Prevent Cancer Now (PCN).

And that's where you come in! The whole point of the shiny pate is to raise money to help PCN pursue its mission to combat cancer by cleaning our environment of the many toxic but tragically common chemicals that chastise our bodies on a daily basis.

I'll trim the tangles and cut to the chase: this is a brazen plea. Whether it's $5 or $50, or an ingot of solid gold, please consider pledging to PCN's worthy cause. It's as simple as 1,2,3 … and yes, there's a tax receipt too!

1) Click on this link, Hills of Erin Cancer Prevention Foundation, or paste this link into your browser: http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?charityID=s100599

2) Click on "Donate Now," and you'll go to a page to enter a couple key pieces of info—be sure to select "Community Head Shave - Andrew Bennett" in the list of funds!

3) Send me an email (andrewb@rosslandtelegraph.com) to say you're in and for how much so I can add you to the list of generous donors.

Now, you may ask, why PCN?

Many other wholesome hairdos will sacrifice their bouncy body and healthy shine to the venerable Canadian Cancer Society on the same evening, and I do not wish to dissuade you from this cause which helps patients and their families cope with the terrible trials, and contributes to research efforts.

But the truism can hardly contain itself: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

It's a maxim to live by, and life is what this is all about. We have all been hit in some way by the scourge of cancer, be it our friends, our family, or ourselves. The tragedy is beyond enormous—more than 20,000 fatalities in Canada each year make cancer the country's leading cause of death.

My friends will know that I'm perilously close to an impassioned diatribe against the health system's narrow focus on expensive chemicals and radiation, when inexpensive but effective alternatives such as raw diet therapies and megadoses of Vitamin C get ignored and eschewed.

But I refuse to digress into the ethics and economics of pharmaceutical megacorps and the phoney science that props up their vested interest in outrageously expensive and, despite all the money, largely ineffective treatments. I'll hold myself to a quick truism: you can't fight fire with fire.

And now let's take this somewhere far more positive…

I recently caught up with Rossland resident Diana Daghofer, co-chair of PCN, to ask about the group's philosophy and latest initiatives.

"We're trying to give people a sense that cancer isn't something that just appears in your life," Daghofer said. "There are things you can do to prevent it."

"It's a hard message to get out there," she conceded, "but by far our most loyal followers are those who have been through the disease and want to prevent a recurrence."

A lot of PCN's work focuses on communication and awareness, but it's not just healthy diets and active lifestyles. They embrace that message too, for example through the Kiss-Off Cancer Cook-Off fundraising dinner that will come again this fall and for which Daghofer hopes "people will be inspired to use fresh, organic produce from their gardens."

But Daghofer said many other organizations are already "pushing the lifestyle message."

"We need to go beyond that, to look at the environment," she said. "People should be able to go into stores and buy products without being worried that there are chemicals in them that are going to screw up their endocrine system and possibly bring on cancer."

Bisphenol-A, for example, was taken out of baby bottles, but it's still in the liners of tin cans. It's not illegal, so only some manufactures such as the Mountain Equipment Co-op have voluntarily removed the hormone-like carcinogen.

PCN has taken on a lot of issues, everything from nuclear plants to tanning beds.

Daghofer said PCN is thick in the fight to ban incineration plants, including the "battle" to keep an incinerator out of Christina and a few other similar skirmishes across the country.

"Unfortunately, they're picking up steam," she said about incinerators. "They claim we're getting away from waste and supposedly creating energy, but there are serious downsides. And besides, none have ever saved money or created any energy."

PCN also focuses on products, such as Canada's insistent export of asbestos (despite being illegal here, for good reason) and the use of dangerous toxins to maintain residential lawns.

On the topic of deadly aesthetics, another PCN battle is being waged against common but carcinogenic compounds in everyday cosmetics.

"Particularly in North America, there's a long history and a real philosophy of allowing industry a free hand," Daghofer explained. "People talk about government interference, but quite frankly, if the government is not speaking on behalf of individuals, no-one really is. Industry is looking after the bottom line and their shareholders. We need government regulation to keep products safe."

Please donate to Prevent Cancer Now at the Community Head Shave event on Apr. 28. Click here and select "Donate Now" on the Hill's of Erin website. Enter your info and select "Community Head Shave - Andrew Bennett." Thanks for your support!