29 December 2005

Another Externality, better known as Daughter, Sister, Wife, and Friend

On Christmas night a 31 year old woman died of cancer. I knew her. I hadn’t seen her in at least 15 years, but she was my neighbor growing up. I was a couple of years older than her and didn’t attend the same school, but we saw each other often in our condominium complex and played together sometimes, as did all the kids growing up in our little community microcosm. I remember her even as a child being a bright, intelligent girl and talented actor. By all accounts, she remained much the same as an adult. She should still be here, finishing off at least another half a century on the planet. Instead, she has become another corporate externality.

How does a woman who only spent three decades on earth become ravaged with terminal cancer? Just a stroke of bad luck, a curse from the heavens, faulty inherited genes? Those seem the only explanations we even venture to suggest, if we even seek explanations at all. Aren’t they simple, easy, convenient? And TOTAL B.S.!

In the past few years, cancer has touched upon my life a number of times. My father was diagnosed and treated, my dear friend has been battling it for far too long, another former neighbor recently underwent surgery and her first round of chemotherapy. CS lost his uncle to cancer at the age of 57. This “disease” is an epidemic! These people do not represent cases of inheritance or misfortune; they are victims of toxic, carcinogenic living conditions that we chose to ignore and expect, and of corporate irresponsibility and neglect. We should be holding those responsible accountable for what they have done to our lives and our planet, and trying to reverse and eliminate their effects. Instead, we seek panaceas and buy silastic bracelets. We need a change of paradigm in the case of cancer.

Since the industrial revolution and the introduction of synthetic chemicals in the early 1900’s, cancer rates simply SOARED. Though some naturally occurring chemicals are known carcinogens, synthetic chemicals bombarded our bodies with mutagenic agents that our cells did not recognize. Pesticides, herbicides, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, detergents, cleansing agents, plastics. Most of the products that we use without question every day contain at least minimal traces of carcinogens. The particulates in our air from industry and especially automobiles do immeasurable damage as they pass through our cell membranes into our nuclei, where they are able to affect our DNA. Our water is replete with fertilizer runoff from industrial agriculture as well as from manufacturing. Carcinogens like perchlorate (from the offense industry) and chromium 6, not to mention mercury have seeped into nearly every waterway in the country. There even exists great evidence that microwave ovens and cell phones promote tumor growth. Due to our constant exposure over the past 5 or 6 decades, we carry many of these chemicals, in absurdly dangerous levels, right in our bloodstreams. Couple all that with the fact that our diets have diminished amounts of nutrients due to our reliance on overly processed food products and beverages, and we have little chance to combat the assault. Our own immune system cannot function in its normal capacity to rid our bodies of cancer cells before they grow into a tumor and metastasize. Every second of our lives we receive an onslaught from all directions of known cancer causing agents, so we will likely have an extremely difficult time linking cause and effect to just one of these many chemicals we encounter daily in our particular environment.

Despite all of this evidence, some scientists still insist, and the rest of us gladly believe, that cancer is hereditary. First of all, even if cancer can be linked to supposed faulty genes, it is highly probable that these genes were originally intact, then became yet another byproduct of mutagenic agents in the environment. In addition, the supposed “cancer genes” that have been discovered only occur in a minimal percentage of people who contract the cancer. Of the women who have breast cancer, 95% of them DO NOT have the supposed breast cancer genes. This being the case, it seems absurd to focus on that connection at all. The reason for the great attention to genes and heredity is to enable multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies to capitalize on genetic counseling and gene therapy (a dubious venture). And by spotlighting cancer medicine rather than cancer prevention, corporations evade blame and exponentially win. They do not face any consequences for providing the lethal environments that promote human cancers, and they profit from the expensive, often highly painful therapies (ALL of which are cancer-causing themselves)!

Certainly, anyone who has unfortunately contracted cancer needs help and hope to fight it. However, our best bet on battling cancer may be in elimination rather than addition. In lieu of barraging our bodies with treatments that WEAKEN our immune system and potentially cause cancer themselves, we should focus on STRENGHTENING our immune system. Eliminating all superfluous non-nutritious foods and as many products with synthetic chemicals as possible is a good start for both cancer prevention and reversal. In fact, elimination of all food via a water fast can be a great therapy in which your body utilizes its own resources to expel toxins.

That a life is cut short at the age of 31 is horrendous beyond comprehension. That many corporations actually benefit (over and over again) by the deaths of those we love is unfathomable! We need to address cancer as the avoidable, preventable, environmentally induced syndrome that it is. We need to hold companies responsible for their products. We must stop letting a person we know become another corporate externality when those that loved her will miss her forever as a daughter, sister, wife, and friend.

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