My dad has cancer.
It is a “good” kind of cancer: Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, which is “very treatable.” Ironically, the oncologist explained that this is an aggressive lymphoma but that also means it absorbs the chemo drugs and reacts quickly. So the aggressive nature of this disease makes it easier to treat.
Daddy’s first chemo treatment went well and the mass in his abdomen shrank immediately. It no longer interferes with his breathing when is lying down to sleep. Tests have revealed that the cancer has not spread, and the bone marrow test showed no trace of lymphoma. In short, my daddy’s prognosis is very good.
At the end of June, we just knew that my 61-year-old father had a mass on his stomach or pancreas, and we were so worried. We thought he might not even live to see his fourth grandchild (my nephew) who is due in mid-August. Now we believe life will be back to normal by Thanksgiving. We are planning to walk in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk on October 21st — the day of Daddy’s last chemo treatment.
My life continues. My parents don’t need my help, and my energetic son is a bit too much for long visits with Grandpa. And so I continue to work, and I’ve even taken my son on a short vacation. Everything is the same except that I make more frequent calls to check on my parents.
But my thoughts are all jumbled up. How does this happen? What is the trigger? Of course, I’m grateful that my daddy’s treatment appears to be going well. Of course, I’m amazed by what medical research provides. (My sister and I hope to raise $2000 to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and its dedication to cancer research — which helps blood cancer patients as well as those with other types of cancer.)
But it brings more sharply into focus the question: while we’re all raising money to treat these diseases, who is studying how to prevent these diseases? And just as importantly, how do we tell our friends and neighbors who don’t know about the things we're already concerned about? I certainly wish someone had told me about soaps and cleaners and pesticides long before I had my son, which led to my becoming eco-crazy. Would my son have sensory issues if I had done something differently while I was pregnant?
Would my dad have lymphoma if he’d been more careful about __________? What if my mom had learned about triclosan soap before I told her? Would that have made a difference? What if my dad had eaten organic foods all of his life? What if ....
There are so many variables and so many unknowns, but I do think that if we can eliminate toxic chemicals, then maybe we can eliminate some cancer from our futures.
We know about some concerns: pesticides, cleaning products, personal care products. But how do we share this information with family and friends who haven't come across the information? My dad's diagnosis increases the urgency for me.
I tend to overwhelm friends and family who show a little interest. For example, I recently spent an hour writing an email to explain to my cousin why she shouldn't buy soap with triclosan. My email was complete with links to 12-page reports. I'd much rather say, "Here's a great book that explains why you need to take a close look at your cosmetics drawer, your cleaners, and everything in your shower and fridge."
What is the single best basic "green your life" book or documentary you've read/seen?