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When It Comes to Cancer, I Say Why Take the Chance

by Jennae Petersen

Janae Petersen: When It  Comes to Cancer, I Say Why Take the Chance In January 2010, my 4 year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer (leukemia, to be specific). I still don’t like to use that word. In fact, I almost never say it. I don’t believe my daughter has ever said it, and she’s probably heard it only once or twice when doctors and nurses have slipped and said it. If you’re curious about the details of our journey, you can read more at my blog, Green Your Décor.

Today, I’m writing less about the details and more about what I don’t know. What I’d love to know. Simply put, why?

Not necessarily why in the “Why my daughter?!” type of sense, but why leukemia in the first place. The doctors have told us over and over that they don’t know what causes the disease, and also that there is nothing we could have done to cause or prevent it. But that begs the question: If you don’t know what causes it, how can you be so certain that it couldn’t have been prevented?

I have been obsessed with all things green for a while now, clamoring for more and more information about the chemicals that we put in and on our bodies every day and going leaps and bounds to try to avoid them when I can. So my daughter’s diagnosis hit my family like a sledgehammer. It is no secret that some cancers have environmental links.

If you don’t know what causes it, how can you be so certain that it couldn’t have been prevented?

It’s the reason we avoid tobacco and asbestos and the reason that some people who do certain high-risk jobs with lots of chemical exposure wind up with forms of the disease that others do not. But clearly, my daughter is in a household where we take exposure to these types of things seriously. So what could we have done differently?

Even if we’re never able to determine the cause of leukemia, I know this: I will do everything in my power to make sure that she, nor anyone else in my family, ever has to suffer from a disease that could be prevented simply by changing the way we live. It’s easy to make excuses about why we can’t change, banking on the idea that we don’t really “know”, scientifically, that some chemicals and products are bad for us.

Preying on people’s skepticism about whether “green” is just another ploy to charge more money for stuff. I, however, won’t wait until everyone else decides it is time to change. I figure the only way to protect myself and my family is to make the change on my own, hoping to be an example to others who want to do the same. And hoping that if enough of us do this, the rest of the world will eventually catch on.

Because if the doctors had told us my daughter’s diagnosis was the result of some environmental factor we easily could have avoided, I’m honestly not sure how I would have reacted…do you know how you would?

Right now, we can help prevent that moment of horror, and the suffering of more children by urging President Obama to make cancer prevention a priority. Every minute, at least one American will die from cancer this year. If your life has been touched by cancer, please sign this petition to make it a top priority for the Obama Administration to create a cancer prevention plan that stops the use of cancer-causing chemicals in products used in America every day. It’s just simple common sense.

Jennae Petersen is a woman — a mother — who is keenly aware of the impact her actions have on the environment, yet who is still trying to change old habits that have carried over from her life before she knew better. She shares her experience, her struggles and her victories, at her two blogs, Green Your Decor and Green & Gorgeous. She hopes she can prove to someone — even just one person — that green living is a life-changing state of mind that can be accomplished without sacrificing quality of life.