Five years. Five years Cancer free this December. That is the magic number that all cancer survivors strive to reach. After five years the chance of having a relapse drops dramatically. It’s hard to believe that five years have passed so quickly .
Cancer never did, nor does it now, define me. I had it, I went through surgery, chemo and radiation. Treatments ended and I went on with my life. In all honesty, I rarely think about it.
I know I am one of the lucky ones. Here I am ringing the bell after my very last radiation treatment signally the end of my breast cancer treatments.
I had on my “Debbie” wig and the “designer” hospital top that they gave all the ladies to help them feel fashionable while undergoing a very unglamourous treatment. Looking back on this photo I don’t even recognize that person. Today my life is so different and I have grown more in the past five years than in the twenty before that.
As horrible as cancer is, it was facing my own mortality that allowed for such growth; both as a person and as a business owner. In fact, I can now look back at my illness as a blessing. You can read about the gifts cancer gave me here.
Creating a chemical free home
Being diagnosed with Cancer forced me to take stock of unhealthy habits that I needed to change. I had been a fairly clean eater since high school but my love of wine and sugar, definitely could not be classified as healthy.
I made the switch to eating more organic fruits and vegetables. We bought a whole house water filtration system, as I had been a tap water drinker for years. Making the food and water switch was easy. Discovering how unhealthy the rest of our house was, was eye opening.
As I did more research I was awakened as to how many toxins we had in our home, many which I used daily. Getting those harmful chemicals out of our home became my mission. I tossed all the powerful brand name cleaners and replaced them with plant based ones that are better for my husband, me and the environment. I read labels on everything from soap to hand cream to make up. With these too, I switched to all natural, plant based wherever possible.
The biggest change I made was to create a healthy bedroom. Since we spend at least 8-10 hours a day in the bedroom, I wanted this space to be as chemical and toxin free as possible.
Our healthy Bedroom
Pre-cancer we slept on a well known brand of memory foam. When it came time for an upgrade I read multiple articles online about the dangerous toxins memory foam emits. Several studies showed a link to cancer among people who slept on this brand of mattress. Maybe the studies were true, maybe not, but it gave me pause when I noted that my cancer was in my right breast, which happens to be my preferred side for sleeping.
We purchased a Prana sleep organic mattress. Yes, it was expensive but so was getting cancer. Putting it into perspective, we have spend that amount on a week vacation so putting that money toward something we will sleep on for the next twenty years or so seemed worth the expense.
Upgrading to organic bedding was a no brainer. It’s embarrassing to admit but pre-cancer I often went for the best value (aka cheapest) sheets and bedding I could find. Honestly, sheets were sheets to me and I would look to thread count but that’s about it.
Looking back now, I realize why new sheets smelled so bad and had to be washed before use. Most lower quality sheets have a multitude of pesticides and chemicals used in their production. I no longer consider organic sheets a luxury I think of them as a necessity.
My favorite brand that we have been using for the past 4-5 years is Boll and Branch. I started with their sheets and now all our bedding, including our duvet, blankets and towels are from them. The sheets are so soft and it gives me peace of mind knowing chemicals are not being absorbed through my skin while I sleep.
I chose a 100% wool carpet for our bedroom. This was an easy choice because I am allergic to most synthetic (especially polypropylene) carpets. Wool or other natural fiber carpets are always my first choice. Wool wears really well and holds up to stains. In really active families with kids and pets, sometimes synthetic carpets are the better choice. It all depends on your life style but in bedrooms I always suggest using a natural fiber carpet.
Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint is all I use now. That “fresh paint smell” that so many refer to is nothing more than off gassing of toxic chemicals. Almost all paint companies today make either a low or no VOC paint. In our bedroom I used Benjamin Moore Natura paint.
Bringing in a plant or two will help filter the air and remove toxins. I have a plant on the bookcase and a plant on the small yellow table in front of the windows. How many toxins they actually remove is debatable but I like having some nature in the room even if it’s the healthy payback is only psychological.
For me, it took a diagnosis of cancer before I took action on eliminating toxins from my home and diet. Hopefully you won’t wait until a cancer diagnosis causes you to act. Even small changes such as eating more organic fruits and vegetables or sleeping on organic bedding can make a different. The bottom line is, healthy changes you make will result in better health for both you and the environment.
My number one recommendation for a healthy home is start with a healthy bedroom!