We sat in the dim light together on the uncomfortable hospital cot as she tried to force back the nausea from the barium sulfate suspension. If she could just tolerate it long enough, the scans would be over and I could drive her home. I held her hand, assured her I’d be there for her every day, and heard her express that she just didn’t understand why this was happening. That was it. No anger at God, which I certainly was feeling. Just concern for everyone else around her, and a sense of perplexity about the whole process.
The cancer killed her just a matter of days after we finally got a conclusive diagnosis. Only then it wasn’t really conclusive. We’ll never know exactly which type of cancer it was and it’s not my place to explain it all. I do know that I’ve since learned my mother probably had frequent exposure to not fewer than eight different known or suspected carcinogens. That’s just the few I could wrap my head around in the years following her death. I can tell you she was not a smoker, so you can’t shake your head about something she should have known better. It was much more complicated than that, as it is for most cancer patients.
Mom would be encouraged to know about today’s earlier detection and wider treatment options and the many success stories of women who beat the odds that were apparently stacked against her. She would want us to celebrate and encourage these survival stories!
Here’s the missing piece that my mother and earlier generations didn’t have: most cancers are NOT just genetic, NOT something we could never have prevented, NOT a complete mystery. Sure, when we’re all exposed to multiple sources of exposure on a regular basis, and when someone does fall sick, you can almost certainly never prove which one thing caused the cancer. Maybe it wasn’t even one thing, but the overlapping effect of multiple, unrelated things. But modern science and medicine does give us an awful lot of clues to things that are either KNOWN or SUSPECTED carcinogens.
Two science-based organizations doing tremendous work to spread the word about avoiding cancer-causing substances in everyday life are Women’s Voices for the Earth and the Breast Cancer Fund. I need your help today to raise $500 directly for the Breast Cancer Fund at this fundraising page. Any amount is appreciated. I’m not asking you to give if you you’re unable. I am asking, that if you have a tradition of donating to a “breast cancer” cause in October, you rethink which organization is really doing something about this terrible disease.
My goal is to complete 40 miles this month in memory of my mom, Ruth Ann, and in honor of my brave childhood friend, Becky, and too many others to name who are battling cancer right now. Government statistics tell us one in three women will get cancer and one in two men will, too. We’re all painfully aware of cancer’s destructiveness. One gift I can give my mother is to equip the granddaughters she never met with the tools to choose a life free of many carcinogens women used to have to tolerate, including some wrapped in pink ribbons. Are you ready to sort through the haze of pinkwashing and fight back yet?
Both of the mentioned nonprofits will be our special guests to answer questions and share resources on Thursday night at our special Strong, not Scared #CleanCoupoyning Twitter party, which you can RSVP for at the bottom of the post here. Even if you can’t give a monetary donation, please join us on Twitter at 9 pm Eastern, 8 Central on Thursday and follow @FlourSackMama and others as we share education, questions, concerns, frustrations and empowerment about cancer prevention.
I was careful to allow only event sponsors that are supporting healthier lifestyles and empowering women’s good health. You can enter here for generous giveaways from both natural deodorant maker Rustic MAKA and snack maker Santa Barbara Bar.