Throughout every generation of human existence there have been dangers that threaten our longevity. Science has made many discoveries that make us better at preventing and even eradicating some threats such as disease, (i.e. influenza and smallpox) and in anticipating or managing natural disasters such as those caused by severe weather. The unfortunate trade-off is that we have created new dangers that can pose as much, or even greater, harm to our earth and body. The line between the natural and man-made disasters often becomes blurry.
In this twenty-first century, we have become aware that our environment can pose a danger to our health and, depending on our level of exposure and susceptibility, can have significant implication for an individual’s health and wellness. Cancer survivors, who may be wondering why they developed cancer to begin with, may be very concerned about what their body meets; what they inhale, eat, drink, or even apply to their skin. Consequently, everyday life takes on new challenges and everyday habits, such as a trip to the grocery store, can become a stress-filled and lengthy experience. In an ever-changing environment there is a new reason to explore and educate ourselves constantly to minimize the risk of exposure and find ways to work around them. Even then, there is no assurance that we have done ‘enough.’
Since it is not socially acceptable, nor desirable to live in a balloon, we need to have some confidence in the work that government and medical organizations like the CDC and the Human Exposome Project have set in action. Bringing together investigators and professionals to measure and understand the impact of complex environmental influences and human health, we must have some measure of trust that best practices are implemented and care for our world is a priority.
Hopefully, as time progresses, the impact of our environment on the health of future generations will lessen, making a place instead to reduce the impact and effects of the next ‘disaster’. Until then, all we can do is use common sense. At the end of the day there is only so much we can do to protect our body without jeopardizing the quality of our lives. The psychological impact of this vast awareness of the dangers around us may haunt you at times in your cancer survivorship journey. If you notice that it starts to interfere with your ability to function and live your life, then please let your provider know, so they can provide support to help you through this time of stress. A little well directed guidance can help you quicker and faster than you may be able to accomplish on your own. Remember the mind can become another one of our biggest enemies; don’t let it run away with worst case scenarios. Be brave, be strong, be wise!