Six weeks ago, one of my good friends was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that it had already spread to her lymph nodes. I was blown away. She's young, she's healthy, and she doesn't have any family history of cancer. My heart broke for her and the battle that her body has to endure.
And to tell you the truth, it really scared me.
Life can turn on a dime. I think most of us have experienced that, including my friend. One day you're applying self-tanner (her), the next day you are hearing life changing news. You never know what hills are right in front of you until it's time to start climbing.
I've done the Avon Breast Cancer Walk twice, I buy the pink products every October and dutifully mail in my pink Yoplait yogurt lids in support of cancer research. But what else can you do? How can you keep yourself healthy?
I decided to stop drinking Diet Coke.
For about two days. And in my Diet Coke free panic, I realized something...it's everywhere.
Covering up those grays? There is conflicting evidence over an increased cancer risk from the use of hair dye. Not good since in my personal experience, each child really increases the pop-up of the grays.
Put on deodorant every morning? There is research described as conflicting between the use of underarm antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer. Which is unfortunate since I think this is something most of us need.
Lather your kids with sunscreen before you send them outdoors? Some sunscreen ingredients are considered potentially carcinogenic. And don't even get me started on what they say about not getting enough sun.
Sipping a glass of wine after a long day? The amount of alcohol consumed over time can increase your cancer risk. Hmmmm. I liked the report better about white wine strengthening your lungs.
Grilling hot dogs with your family? The Cancer Prevention Coalition recommends that children not consume more than 12 hot dogs per month due to the risk of cancer. Do you think the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Champion is concerned about this?
Pulling a late night or not getting enough sleep? Studies have shown that night shift workers are at an increased risk for certain types of cancers. I'm typing this at midnight, is that a bad sign?
Organized and hold on to receipts? A French study shows that bisphenol is found in ATM and grocery store receipts, which can lead to cancer and birth defects. I'm admittedly not very organized so I'm not as worried about this one.
I'm not trying to scare you away from your occasional Diet Coke. My point is that most of us are doing things and using products every day that MAY contain some sort of ingredient that MAY cause cancer. And you can drive yourself nuts. Quickly.
What can you do? Try to be healthy and do the best that you can. But life's short. And you don't know what's in front of you. So if it's your birthday and you want that piece of cake that contains potentially cancer causing refined sugar, do it. Live your life. Treat it like the blessing it is, and be grateful for what you have and the opportunities that present themselves to you. You're here once. Don't allow fear to prevent you from taking advantage of the ride.