Recently in St. Louis, several Relay for Life walks (events to support the American Cancer Society) were held.  Hundreds of supporters walked to celebrate all those who are or have battled cancer – remembering those who have lost their battle. It is a special time for participants as they walk with others who have been touched by the disease. These walks that are held all over the United States are a reminder to how anyone can be impacted by the disease.  However,  these events also represent an opportunity to teach ways that some cancers can be prevented by making healthy choices or receiving early screenings.  Deaconess Faith Community Nurse Ministries joins the American Cancer Society in making August Cancer Prevention Awareness Month.

Today, more than half of all cancer deaths can be prevented by making healthy choices, but what are those healthy choices?

First, it means staying at a healthy weight and eating right by incorporating vegetables, fruits, and multigrain breads and pastas. Faith Community Nurses working in African American communities have used “Body and Soul”, an evidence, faith based curriculum that emphasizes eating five vegetables, three fruits, less red meat and multigrain pasta and breads. Research has shown that natural fiber provided in multigrain products can help in preventing colon cancer as well. Furthermore, vegetables and fruits, not only provide nutrients, but antioxidants that provide protection against cancers. The curriculum provides ways to incorporate these changes by using spices and cooking techniques that add flavor while decreasing fat and calories.

Secondly, it means keeping active by participating in 150 minutes of moderate exercise in a week. Faith communities are great places to participate in exercise. Walking programs, yoga and other exercise classes, and open gym times provide a way to get the 150 minutes needed. In addition, Faith Community Nurses are versed in working with individuals to develop fun ways to exercise while being with others.

Thirdly, it means scheduling screening tests. These screening tests include mammograms, colorectal exams, cervical pap smears, prostate and testicular screenings, and skin checks. The American Cancer Society has a list of screening tests for each age, and a Faith Community Nurse can help individuals get their individualized screenings done.

There are other healthy choices such as not smoking, applying sunscreen and drinking adequate fluids daily. To learn more about ways a Faith Community Nurse can help your community in preventing cancer by making healthy choices, contact Rev. Donna Pupillo at