The call came one afternoon. It was the University of Minnesota Breast Center calling to tell me that my recent mammogram had shown an abnormality that required further investigation. Hmmmmph, I thought, what a pain in the rear to have to go in for another appointment.
It wasn't until a couple days later that it really started to sink in....what if...what if...WHAT IF I HAVE BREAST CANCER???
After that, every time I saw or heard the word cancer (and it's amazing how often it pops up...in newspapers, on blogs, in conversation...), I wondered if this 6-letter word that I often ignored would be taking on a whole new meaning in my life.
I found myself feeling up in arms - How could this green & healthy Mom possibly have cancer? This Mom who buys as much organic food as she can afford, this Mom who serves healthy, homemade food instead of processed, this Mom who avoids the most toxic cleaning chemicals, this Mom who makes a lot of her own beauty products.
This sucks...is what I was really thinking. How did we manage to create a world where we are getting sick from our own environment?
After waiting an entire week, I headed back to the Breast Center for a follow-up mammo & ultrasound. I'm laying there on the examining table with my left breast hanging out when the doctor comes in (Doctor: "Do you mind if my really cute, boy-intern comes in to watch?" Me: "Sure, come on in and why don't you invite a few more people while you're at it!") He's real serious, trying rather unsuccessfully to be friendly. He frowns as he checks the ultrasound for a minute or two that seems like an hour. Finally, he says - "You've got fibrous changes but there's no tumor" and turns and leaves the room.
Big sigh. Relief!!
So will I do anything differently now, after this little wake-up call? Not really. I will continue to eat healthy, non-processed food (most of the time!) and to reduce my toxic chemical exposure as much as possible. On a day-to-day basis that is all anyone can do. There is no 100% protection plan from cancer.
I will also continue to advocate for changes that will protect us and our children from cancer-causing chemicals in our environment. Supporting the Kid-Safe Chemical Act to reform federal chemical laws, is something that we all can do to help. I encourage you to sign the petition, contact your legislators, host a kid-safe house party or simply help get the word out.
The Green Moms Carnival is talking about environmental causes of cancer this month and Tiffany at Nature Moms is hosting. Read about her own surprising struggle with cancer in her 20's, as well as interesting insights from other Green Moms on this compelling topic.