The World Health Organization reported last week that Diesel engine fumes may cause cancer—the latest educated guess at what kills over 7.5 million people each year. While I've always paid attention to findings such as this one, these days I have even more reason to.
Last fall, my husband, Jonathan, was a healthy 28-year-old man who seemingly had heartburn from the stress of a new baby. He ran half-marathons, played basketball twice weekly, and ate appropriate portions of locally grown produce, whole grains, lean meats, and fish.
To say we were shocked by Jonathan's cancer diagnosis would be, to put it lightly, an understatement. Turns out, the heartburn was rather a mass in his lower neck and upper chest.
When something like cancer happens, onlookers want answers. "How could this happen to you? You're so young and healthy," they said. The question is one that at times we couldn't help asking ourselves.
At Jonathan's first doctor's appointment his surgeon casually mentioned the high rate of lymphoma in our area and that agricultural pesticides could be a possible cause. I went home from the meeting and began Google searching like a crazy person. I wanted to find something—anything —that would help us understand why cancer had picked his body. I needed to know whether we could have prevented this mass, this cancer, from happening.
I came to no conclusions—about pesticides or any other causes for the cancer. And despite his treatment being complete and his body now free of cancer, it's difficult to still think about the cause. Just a few days ago I found myself panicked as I went to heat the baby's bottle. Plastic or glass? Tap water or purified water? Organic formula or Target brand? And, are we even wearing ...1
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