The past few weeks I have learned more about cancer than I probably, okay I definitely, ever wanted to learn. Such is life, you get the diagnosis, understand the prognosis, and you move forward but you move forward armed with knowledge and not fear. That's how you beat cancer.

One of the tools I've uncovered in my search to find out more about this awful disease is a new visualization tool that's now available from the Louisiana Tumor Registry website. This tool allows those of us who learn better with pictures to "see" what cancers are most prevalent in which parts of the state.

As you can see from the graphic above taken from the Louisiana Tumor Registry website's new visualization tool, the part of Louisiana we call home is also home to some of the highest rates of cancer in the state.

This simple snapshot should give all of us that live in Acadiana reason for concern. What is it about our unique part of the world? Is it our food? Is it our lifestyle? Is it the industries that employ our people?

In the world of reasonable people, you'd have to think, based on this information, there was something about our environment that lends itself to such a high rate of cancer.

That's just one of the many unique views this visualization tool offers. Not only can you see incidents of all cancers but you can narrow down the search to specific cancers and age groups too. You can also see the cure and survival rates from each part of the state too.

I am very grateful that while our part of the state shows such a high instance of cancer, we also show some of the highest rates for early detection and five-year survival. Those stats are very encouraging, especially from where I am sitting.

Obviously we shouldn't make broad strokes judgments based on pretty graphics and charts. What we should do is see our doctors on a regular basis. We should get those tests that are uncomfortable. We should know our results and we should learn more about how to give ourselves and our families our best chances to avoid the beast that is cancer. We should stop being afraid and we should take charge of our own proactive fight against this disease.