How Breast Cancer Changed My Political Views

shutterstock_316622207I was walking in a field, alone, when my footsteps began to feel lighter, and lighter until my feet were no longer touching the ground at all. I was trying to walk, but instead I was floating just inches above the ground. I woke myself up when I called out, “Mom?”

I was a life-long Republican, until one morning in 2011 set a wave of change in motion. I’d spent my life believing in the free enterprise system, believing that business is always good for the economy because it provides jobs for people, and that the people who run these big businesses have our best interest at heart, and value their employees by paying them well. In a perfect world, this might be true, but I’ve discovered otherwise.

March 2011

I woke up and found a red spot on my breast. I noticed it when drying off after my shower. Peering into the mirror, I rubbed over it, and did a breast exam. No lumps, I thought, I must have slept with my arm there, or something.shutterstock_296252540

The next morning the red spot was still there. Curious, I thought, as I dressed to go to work. My gut nagged at me off and on all day, so when I got home from work I went to the bathroom, removed my bra, and looked closely at the pink area about the size of my thumb.

I dressed, went straight to my laptop and typed in, “red spot on breast.” The information glaring at me from the screen was scary. The only two explanations that came up were mastitis, a breast infection seen in nursing mothers, and inflammatory breast cancer. Since I was fifty-six, and post menopausal, I knew it wasn’t mastitis.

I received the diagnosis on April 1, 2011. April Fools! You have breast cancer. I was standing in the reception area at work when I received the phone call from my doctor. I was dazed. There was no history of breast cancer in my family; this was something I thought could never happen to me.

I took the first appointment I could get at the local cancer center. The following week was a busy one. I had appointments for a port to be installed in a major vein near my heart to receive chemotherapy, an MRI, PET scan, and Chemo Class, where the nurse explained precautions I should take while in treatment.

shutterstock_318100451I’ve always been curious about why things happen, and breast cancer was no exception. I looked first at my diet, which I believed was fairly healthy, since I was a long-time vegetarian. But as I became an avid label reader I discovered all sorts of problems with our food supply. Sugar, which is said by some to be as addictive as cocaine, is generously added to many convenience foods. Flavor enhancers, preservatives, flavors both natural and unnatural, are added, as well as dyes and products that cannot be considered food at all. These additives preserve food for a longer shelf life, but they also make food addictive, thereby increasing sales, resulting in profits for happy shareholders. I believe this to be the root of obesity in our country.

How, I wondered, are these things allowed in our food supply? Further research showed that chemical and pesticide companies are leading the way in modifying the seeds of our food supply. But, that makes no sense. Why is that not a conflict of interest? Why is Monsanto, a company that produces pesticides, genetically modifying our vegetables, fruits, and even nuts? Don’t they realize that even if you rinse them off, watering makes the chemicals seep into the ground, and the veggies slurp it up. If pesticides are what they drink, then pesticides are what’re inside.

I found many articles on bullying techniques by Monsanto, arguments for why GMO’s are healthy, and safe, but also found that many other countries have banned GMO seeds. Then I found out about The Monsanto Protection Act, which was written into an unrelated Bill and approved by Congress. It’s premise is that even if GMO’s are later found to be unsafe, or unhealthy, Monsanto will be allowed to continue this practice. What??? If Monsanto is correct, and there is nothing for us to worry about, then why was The Monsanto Protection Act even necessary? And what is the problem with truth in labeling? To protect investments, and profits? What about the health of our society? In my opinion, Monsanto has a monopoly over our food supply. Isn’t that illegal? shutterstock_317619887

My research also uncovered a plethora of environmental causes of cancer. Toxic chemicals, invade our everyday lives. Toxins in our plastic food containers; did you know that canned foods are lined with BPA, and the foods are often cooked right in the cans? Would you add a scoop of BPA, or a block of plastic to a nice big pot of homemade soup? Of course not, but that’s what we’re eating when we open a can of food lined with BPA.

We breathe contaminated air, and eat meat and diary treated with growth hormones. Animals are raised in terrible conditions, and some farmed seafood is raised in virtual cesspools.  Fluoride, an industrial waste and neurotoxin, is added to our water supply:  Chemicals spill into our groundwater from fracking.

shutterstock_233515519The commercials paid for by gas and oil companies tell us they’ve been safely fracking for more than sixty years. But all anyone needs to do is search the Internet for fracking accidents and spills to find that they’ve been fracking a lot, but not safely. Search again for drilling sites close to the increasing number of earthquakes we’re seeing. Fracking involves taking a virtual jackhammer to the Earth’s crust, and injecting toxic chemicals that they don’t have to disclose into the Earth. These chemicals don’t stay buried in the ground; they end up in our water, and in our environment. And how many times would you take a jackhammer to the foundation of your home and still consider it structurally sound?

Toxic ingredients are added to makeup and body care products, too. It’s not hard to find a list of them:

What have we done to our planet, and its population? Is everyone at the Food and Drug Administration asleep? Where is the accountability? And why do we even buy these products?

I believe the answer is that we are just too busy in our lives to pay attention. We believe measures are in place to protect us from unsavory business practices. We’ve fallen asleep, we drank the kool-aid, and we’ve become apathetic. We take the word of others over the common sense in our guts.

Then I found out about some extraordinary research at the Cleveland Clinic. They’ve developed prevention for breast cancer. It’s been sitting, unfunded, for years! And the research is solid: 100% effective in preventing breast cancer in all three mouse-models. Even mice bred specifically to develop breast cancer failed to when given this vaccine. Further, mice that already had breast cancer saw tumor reduction when given the vaccine.

But sadly, a vaccine that prevents breast cancer would put the big pink charities, and many pharmaceutical companies, out of business. shutterstock_317735594They refused to fund this research. I was furious when I heard that. Only about twenty million dollars was needed to fund this research, and billions are raised each year. The difference between the “cures” we’re running around and throwing money at, and “prevention” is enormous. Prevention means never needing to spend the $300,000 billed to my insurance company to buy toxic chemo and radiation. Mastectomies would not need to rob us of our femininity, but most importantly, patients would not need to endure the life-long side effects of these treatments. Lives would be saved, families could be raised by their mothers.

The more I dug into these things, the more I found one common thread. Greed, and worship of the almighty dollar. Big businesses deemed too big to fail. Lobbyists throwing millions upon millions of dollars at campaigns geared to sway politicians. I found greed on both sides of the aisle, both democrats and republicans.

As I dug into some of these political platforms I discovered an enormous gap in what they stood for. It’s apparent to me that republicans stand for money, and a strong economy, and while there is nothing wrong with that, they also support businesses that export jobs, keep money in off shore accounts, and some even renouncing citizenship in order to avoid paying taxes. They protect the wealthy. Period.

But, most of us aren’t wealthy. Most of us are normal, middle class people trying to earn a decent living, and live a healthy life. Where is our representation?

At sixty-one, my cancer is metastatic. It’s in both of my lungs, in my bones, and the side effects of removing lymph nodes during my mastectomy is causing fluid to build up around both of my lungs, and my heart. It’s too late for me. I drank the kool-aid early on. Nothing I can do at this point will reverse this disease that is occurring more frequently in spite of the billions of dollars raised over decades to “cure” it.

But I learned some valuable lessons. I’ve learned that I should never assume that just because something is approved by the government means it’s safe. I’ve learned that some politicians advocate for a clean, healthy environment, and for the well being of all people, not just the wealthy, or corporations. I’ve learned that pink ribbons are a marketing tool used by companies and charity organizations to improve sales and profits. I’ve learned that it’s a travesty that we allow shareholders to become a part of our healthcare system, making healthcare unaffordable for so many. I’ve learned that it all simmers down to greed, and ego.

A society that champions clean air, a clean food supply, and shows compassion for people is the society I wish to leave behind. But, I understand, from the perspective of my own research, that the Republican Party will never champion these vital civil rights.

shutterstock_314269880Life on this planet is important. People are important. Not just a few of the people, all of the people.

I’ve concluded the free enterprise system will only work if devoid of greed and selfishness. Business is good for the economy only when there is accountability to the planet on which we dwell. The people who run big businesses may have had our best interest at heart at one time, but many have lost their way and identified success with an unlimited stream of money…for themselves.

Charity organizations need to have caps on salaries so that the funds raised are not just lining the pockets of the fortunate few who run them. And care must be taken that those who sit on their boards of directors are not there for financial gain because that’s a conflict of interest.

Our forefathers dreamed of a land of opportunity for all, not just a privileged few. So many injustices could be made right if only people, and not money, were our central concern. Thomas Jefferson called for a government by the people, for the people. We’ve irresponsibly morphed this into government of the people for the corporations. It’s shameful in my view, and I can no longer stand with those who would put profits before people, or withhold the truth.

Share love. Reject greed, and judgment. Embrace The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Our world is precious, our society to be valued, but never, ever should love of money overshadow our love of one another.


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  1. #1 by cynthiacarlisi on November 3, 2015 - 8:15 am

    This article, written by my sister’s dear friend who died shortly after writing it, sounds another warning bell for us to wake up and act for a better tomorrow. Cancer affects most of us, death is coming to all of us. Reject toxins, get involved locally!

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