Eighteen years ago, a year after my mother’s death, almost to the day, I was diagnosed with cancer, Hodgkin’s Disease. When my mother passed, she had lymphoma. Five years prior to my diagnosis, my Dad died, after a long battle with Melanoma. It metastasized to his brain.
All that cancer so close to home was my wake up call. I knew something was wrong, and I knew it couldn’t just be genetics. Maybe the lymphoma was connected to Hodgkin’s, but what had Melanoma to do with my cancer or with my mother’s? And, what about my maternal aunt, who had breast cancer? What did those other cancers have to do with my Dad or me? And all these folks had cancer in mid to later in life. I was diagnosed at a fairly young age.
Suddenly, everyone else I knew seemed to be getting cancer, too. Neighbors. Children. Friends.
Maybe it all had to do with the poisoning of our environment. Toxics and radiation? This concern weighed heavily with me, nagging in the back of my mind as I went through the grueling ‘healing’ process of a cancer patient.
A few years later, I became pregnant. What joy! All I wanted to was to become a mother. I had waited for so long.
But, I wondered, what right did I have to become a mother at all? I felt guilty trying to become pregnant. What might I pass on to my little one, and how could I protect her from all the environmental hazards in our polluted world? What dangers coursed in my veins?
I knew that my ability to protect my baby daughter was limited. Sure, I did some substantial cleanses post Chemo, ate as well as I possibly could during the pregnancy (as well as before and after), used non-toxic products on my body and in my home, but no matter how much I did and do as an individual, given the boundariless nature of pollution–my maternal blood would still carry toxins right through the placenta and into her growing fetal body, and my breast milk would transmit pollutants as well after the birth, and after birth, well, it’s a polluted world we live in, and none of us can fully keep the pollution out. Sandra Steingraber documents all this in painful detail in her book, Having Faith. Or watch her film, Living Downstream and listen to Sandra as she holds up a cup of human breast milk and explains the high number of toxins in that precious liquid.