Several people have asked me what caused the enormous tumor I developed, and the answer is absolutely everything in the world.

Yes, I know I said that Web-MD is a bad, bad thing, but it’s also pretty informative when you have questions about what causes breast cancers.

Just stay inside and don’t eat, drink, or touch anything.

I tested negative for BRCA 1 & 2 mutations ( though my paternal grandmother had breast cancer in her 30’s, and aunts on both sides have had fibroadenomas/lumpectomies).

So with no known genetic component, my doctors have no idea what caused this. I have done all of these things: used BPAs, consumed ungodly amounts of diet soda, used tanning beds, smoked, drank, used products with parabens in them, eaten GMO foods, cleaned with chemicals, eaten non-organic foods laden with pesticides, lived in rural areas, used antiperspirants, used birth control, been exposed to high levels of radiation, started my period at a young age, and swam in the Nishnabotna River.  That last one probably put me over the edge now that I think about it.

What didn’t I do? First, I was born, and the organic foods movement really wasn’t a thing when I was a kid. No one gave a shit about Monsanto.  My baby bottles were most likely made with Bisphenol A. I smoked enough cloves in college to… never want to smoke a clove again.  Like most 90’s kids (or “Millenials,” as we’re now called), I ate a lot of  pre-packaged, frozen and/or processed foods. And the Nishnabotna is some serious Erin Brockovich shit, a fluorescent-green cesspool of chemical runoff.

It’s a pretty natural reaction to want to blame something, and once I was diagnosed, I went a little crazy. I changed everything I could to try and stop this from ever, ever happening to me again. The only things I could really control were things I ate and used. I stopped eating shitty food that came in a box. Like, immediately.  Then I threw away hundreds of dollars’ worth of cosmetics and toiletries.

None of these products got the green light for safety. NONE.

None of these products got the green light for safety. NONE.

It’s seriously shocking what’s in your makeup. My sister-in-law referred me to EWG’s Skin Deep, and my jaw dropped when I saw how many carcinogens I’ve been unwittingly putting on my face every single day of my life for over ten years. I seriously can’t believe that cosmetic companies can get away with this. Do I blame P&G, L’Oreal, and Unilever for giving me cancer? Not necessarily. But they certainly didn’t help matters.

Don’t even get me started on the safety of the foods I’ve been eating my entire life.

So what can you do when everything you see and touch is a threat to your health? Well, you can’t undo your childhood, but you can start taking a serious look at what you’re putting in your mouth and on your skin. You can learn about early warning signs of disease. The best defenses we have against cancer are prevention and early detection.

It’s scary to face, and it’s stupidly expensive to switch to organic or paraben-free shit, but to me, the peace of mind is worth the extra twenty bucks.

May none of you ever, ever have to deal with cancer, and may all of you take a minute to think about preventing it.



“I guess regular people don’t drink on weeknights.”
“I don’t know any of those people.”



  1. Niklas Blanchard

    The best thing to do is to completely ignore studies that purport to find disparate links between something and cancer. The majority are poorly controlled, have wild p values, barely reject the null hypothesis, or fall well short of a 95% confidence interval.

    And always, always take what documentaries tell you with a grain of salt. They are trying to sell you on a narrative, not illuminate facts.

    1. cassiecares Post author

      I agree. Pop-science isn’t something to bet your savings on, but it really can’t hurt to make changes. If any study (small sample group or otherwise) finds that breast tumors have small amounts of parabens in them, or finds that things like GMOS may cause cancer, why risk it? I think in times of crisis, we want to be able to do something , even if it’s stupid or ineffective. I would never tell people to start doing something toxic, but eliminating something that may or may not be seems worth it to me.


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