What is in your Personal Care Products?

I have always thought of myself as an environmentally educated person, but since having cancer I have realized that I had no idea about the true amount of chemicals that were in my everyday life. I found an organization online, Environmental Working Group, that has changed the way I think about my daily exposure to cancer causing chemicals.

Like most of you, we each have a daily routine that includes quite a few products that we don't give much thought about. My morning shower includes washing my skin with soap, then I wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner. After drying off, I put gel in my hair and lotion on my dry skin, plus a product on my breast surgery scars. I brush my teeth with toothpaste and use a mouthwash. My make up routine includes, sunscreen, face moisturizer, foundation, face powder, eye shadow, mascara, eye brow pencil and lip balm or lip stick. Like a lot of men and women, we have a favorite perfume we spray onto our skin. I consider myself a minimalist and the routine I just described included 18 different products, all with different chemicals and compounds that I put directly onto my skin. 

Walk around your house and you expose yourself to hand soap, dish detergent, laundry detergent, various assortments of cleaners for tubs, toilets, floors, and counters. Then you light a scented candle that contains fragrance and more chemicals. In your yard, you might spray poisons to kill bugs or spiders, rats or rodents...it is a veritable toxic soup and you haven't even left your house.

So I don't want to totally freak you out, but I do want you to consider the amount of environmental exposures you and your children come into contact with on a daily basis. It is a little overwhelming and scary when you think about the over 84,000 chemicals that humans use every single day!  Out of 84,000 chemicals, only 1% of them have actually been tested on humans. Yikes! 

So, this is the part where I encourage you to do a little research at http://www.ewg.org/

You can enter a specific product that you currently use and it will tell you what ingredients are in that product along with a number designation of how toxic each ingredient is to you on a scale of 0 to 9. O is the least toxic and 9 is the most. I had a few "natural" products that turned out to be a "9" on their list when they were marketed to me as being non-toxic and safe. I was really bummed out about the expensive sunscreen I bought that I thought was fine, it wasn't, it had a hormone disrupting chemical that I definitely want to avoid after my hormone positive breast cancer.

Oprah said once on her show something close to "When you know better, you do better." A little bit of research and effort can eliminate some of the most known toxic chemicals that we are using everyday on ourselves and our families. Having survived a very aggressive form of breast cancer, I am no longer willing to trust the marketing on personal products. Even "organic" products can contain harmful chemicals. Check it out today. http://www.ewg.org/

Cancer Cure Overload

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, I was immediately thrown into a whirl wind of medical terms, treatment options, and total disbelief that I had breast cancer in my 40’s.  As soon as I began to share my diagnosis, friends, family members and total strangers inundated me with cancer cures they had read about on the internet.  

I was told, I needed to immediately get on a plane and seek treatment elsewhere as they couldn’t possibly treat me where I lived.  I was told again and again, the best alternative treatment could be found in Texas, Mexico and Europe among other far flung destinations.  I was desperately warned about Western medicine and told I must immediately change everything in my life to survive.  As the owner of a candy store, the first obvious suggestion was that this cancer had been caused by sugar and that sugar had to be completely eliminated from my life…yesterday. 

Advice was given to add turmeric to all my food, drink hydrogen peroxide, take gobs of bizarre supplements, most I had never even heard of.  You must ingest medical cannabis oils, tinctures and edibles with abandon, immediately go vegan, cutting out all meat and animal products, start a green juice fast and avoid chemotherapy at all cost as it will kill me!  Wow!  I'm not saying that all of these suggestions are not without merit, I'm just pointing out that I had cure overload from all of the information.

I was completely overwhelmed and decided that the best way for me to deal with my breast cancer was to do my homework, choose a team of Doctors that gave me choices and not listen to anyone else unless I asked them for help and advice. This proved to be the best way for me to deal with breast cancer, but it did not stop the influx of emails and messages that basically were insinuating that I was not capable of making choices about my own medical care. Looking back, I find it interesting and just a little upsetting that not a single one of the people offering all of this treatment advice had any medical background.  They were not trained in oncology or medicine, Western or Eastern and the majority of them had never been given a cancer diagnosis!

I completely understand the need to give advice to someone you know, but I have learned a very valuable lesson; only give that advice if it is asked for.  Cancer is complicated and every type is different.  When you give unsolicited advice to someone with cancer, it can make them feel overwhelmed, confused and quite frankly it can cause them to feel shame that the cancer is somehow their fault.  "If you only had done xyz, you wouldn't have cancer..." is the message that often comes across.  

In my next blog I will share with you some valuable do's and dont's when supporting someone with cancer.  In my journey, I found tremendous support with OjaiCARES, my local cancer support center. Finding a cancer support center is vital to help you wade through all of the cancer muck you find yourself trapped in.  Trained, caring professionals can help answer questions and guide you with sound advice while supporting your ever changing emotional needs.  Not all advice is bad, but learning the best way to give it can make all the difference.

Stay tuned for my next segment: Practical Cancer Do's & Dont's