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

Things have been more than a little quiet here. Activity came to a complete stop over the last several months. But if there were ever a day for me to end the silence, that day is today. I am a member of the Green Moms Carnival, and today’s carnival is about something that hit entirely too close to home for me recently: cancer.

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. In case I have you completely confused, let me reveal something that I wrote about a while back over at Green Your Decor. In January, my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. I’m not a fan of telling the story over and over, but if you want to know all the details, feel free to read the post over at GYD.

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 thing 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. It’s the reason we avoid lead 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…

By jennae

Hi! I'm Jennae Petersen and I'm the eco diva who had the bright idea to share my journey toward green living with the blogosphere. Some of you may know me as the founder of Green Your Decor, my blog about eco-friendly home decor, as a Walmart Mom, from Twitter or from my organic cotton t-shirt line Differently Clothing. Stick around for a while!


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. Many people aren’t motivated to act until something happens to them…or until they know someone experiencing the effects the rest of us talk about. Hopefully, your post will inspire many readers to follow your example, and focus on ways they can green their lifestyle as a way to protect their families.
    .-= Diane MacEachern´s last blog ..We Don’t Wait for Our Child to Get Hit By a Car Before We Tell Her to Look Both Ways When Crossing the Street =-.

  2. My prayers are with you. My journey to build a greenier home was because of my kids. You start to wonder if any of your ways caused any of their issues. Hopefully people will read your story and find it too close for comfort. All of us need to speak out on how we can change our habits to make it safer for our children.

    Love the website!
    .-= Anna @Green Talk´s last blog ..Are Toxic Chemicals Lurking in your Furniture and Building Products? =-.

  3. Your family remains in my thoughts and prayers. I am glad that you were able to add your voice to this month’s carnival. Childhood leukemia is scary and frustrating and heartbreaking. I hope your daughter does well with the treatment. I remain convinced that educating about the increased risk of childhood leukemia associated with conventional pesticide use around the home/garden and elevated radon levels – both of which can be prevented/reduced – is important, but so too is educating that you just can’t prevent or stop some disease. Unfortunately.
    .-= Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama´s last blog ..Walking upstream to eliminate environmental causes of cancer =-.

  4. I am so glad you found your voice for this post. It speaks volumes considering all that you have been through. It’s good also to see you get some of those thoughts out to others. In baby well care they forget the feet, and unless your child has obvious feet issues they seemingly just don’t care. One day my son in HS said hey mom my feet hurt like all the time. Long story short the podiatrist told me his now life long issues and concerns with his feet could have been prevented with some simple well care and prevention. I lost my mom mind that day.

  5. Jennae,

    No family should ever have to go through what yours is right now. Certainly no child should ever have to. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m wondering whether your little girl would like to receive cards or anything else from your supporters. If so, maybe you could post an address where we could send? I don’t mean to impose, but I know that kids enjoy this so if it’s something she would like, I’d love to contribute.


  6. I wish you and your entire family well as you deal with your daughter’s health challenges. I am attaching a link to a blog I hope can help you through this ordeal. This woman, Sheila Ulrich, is a cancer survivor and talks about practical issues, and about treating the whole body, mind, and spirit. http://sheilaulrich.com/blog/ You can also find her on Facebook.
    God bless.

  7. Your daughter, and your family, remain in my thoughts and prayers.

    Stories like yours underscore why we can’t afford to be complacent. Our children deserve better than to face battles like these. Until we know for certain what is and isn’t safe, we absolutely must err on the side of caution.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..My Shampoo-Free Experiment =-.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story. I agree with you 100% when you say that you are not going to wait for everyone else to decide it’s time to change. Unfortunately, so many people are stuck in a certain mind frame and can judge you when you decide to take responsibility for your own health or the health of your family and make those changes. I’m only 25 and have always been active and healthy and was diagnosed with Lymphoma last year. I think it is harder for my Mum to deal with than it is for me. I just know that I’m going to be fine and I’m sure your daughter will be too.

    My prayers are with you.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Green Earth Festival =-.

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