“It's amazing how your life can change in a year,” my children's pediatrician said to me when I was in her office for my son's annual exam. Since I had last seen her one year ago, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, undergone a double mastectomy, and survived chemotherapy. Now cancer free, and with a scarf tied around her bald head, her attitude remained remarkable — cheerful and inspiring.

She's certainly not alone in facing the "Big C," as contributor and cancer survivor Helen Olsson terms it in "Beat the Odds." From my colleague's mother, who is also undergoing treatment for breast cancer, to two close friends who are battling cervical and endometrial cancers, to the casual mentions by friends with melanomas, we all know someone who has or has had cancer. Not surprisingly, Olsson writes, “the average American has a 40 percent chance of developing cancer over a lifetime.” My own father and aunt are colon-cancer survivors, which makes me a prime candidate for the disease.

But rather than resigning to that fact, we can take to heart Olsson's article, which details the latest research on prevention, with the reminder that 80 percent of all cancers are related to lifestyle. What we eat, how we deal with stress, and our exercise regimen not only play roles in our body's response to cancer, but also in our ability to lead long, healthy lives.

When we sat down to plan this annual wellness guide, we kept circling back to the desire for long-lasting health. We decided to cover the best strategies to achieve health and longevity by preventing serious ailments like cancer.Yet, we also focused on the everyday basics we believe are the foundation for long-term health. To us, these include eating well, fitness, and a robust mental outlook. But because each person is unique, the right combination is a little different for everyone. We'd love to hear how you plan to stay strong for years to come.