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Guest Blog: ‘I Gave You This Knowledge . . . And What Did You Do With It?’

We received this personal note recently. We receive dozens of notes weekly that arrive like little pep pills to carry us through the days, but this one reached out and grabbed us even more than usual — maybe because it reminded us of a poem we have cited here before by Drew Dellinger titled Hieroglyphic Stairway. The poem’s classic last line . . . “what did you do once you knew?” . . . is evoked at the end of this note.

The author of this note, for now, shall remain anonymous to protect her from the potential wrath of her neighbors and co-workers. But we applaud her for speaking out in the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that she can. It’s what we all need to do, isn’t it?

Hello Paul,
I give you a lot of credit for what you do. After I got cancer this June I was and am still stunned by our society and the use of pesticides. I know in my heart that some environmental toxin caused my cancer. I had always gotten my period every 28 days up until the age of 46. I skipped a month in March 2010 and then it was quite heavy. I cried, “Oh, no, I am in menopause,” but then my cycles resumed every 28 days until March or April came again in 2011. Menopause is not seasonal and March and April are when the lawn chemical trucks drive up and down the streets.

I have male neighbors who have prostate cancer directly across the street and even a 23-year-old who had testicular cancer at the end of the street. I spread the word to all of my immediate neighbors telling them not to use the lawn chemicals because they cause cancer and none of them listen. I have my neighbor directly next door who is a RN In oncology with the hospital that treated me. I printed out your article about Round Up and they wrote back: “Please leave us alone we don’t use lawn chemicals on your yard, and if you and your cat stayed off of ours there wouldn’t be a problem. We are not breaking the law and do not intrude on your lives, as you do ours. Stop harrassing us now! My oncologist at work says that using lawn chemicals in moderation is safe and we will continue to do so.”

For God sake I did not show them evidence from Bozo the clown that lawn chemicals are carcinogenic. I try to not only protect myself from exposure that could cause my cancer to reoccur, but I showed them the evidence to protect every man, woman, and child that does have exposure to it. I can’t begin to tell you the pain I felt because of this neighbor and the many others who are anti-social by all accounts.

Another neighbor — and you won’t believe this — had breast cancer surgery 14 years ago. She has had it in her bones for five years now. When I told her about the lawn chemicals she dismissed it and said her husband would continue to use them because “you can’t eliminate everything around you that causes cancer and live in a bubble.” I get livid and say having a green lawn is so nonessential and is it really worth it? And you know it’s not that you just decide for yourself that it’s the risk your willing to take. The biggest problem is when you use these chemicals you not only expose yourself but you expose everyone around you and anti-social behavior is defined as not having regard for the consequences of your actions or the impact of others.

I am not educated and I do not have a career, but if someone showed me evidence of pesticides causing cancer or relayed to me that they thought their breast cancer could have come from pesticides I would stop using them immediately.

Well, Paul, keep up the fight. I am sitting home today from my job as a lunch lady. I spoke up about the way some schools operate. The kids have to ask for the vegetable with their lunch versus the school just serving the vegetable in the first place. The food is awful to begin with, you know, heavily processed and all fat. Many kids don’t take the vegetable, but one day quite a few were and the cafeteria manager at the start of the eight-grade lunch started out with only four servings of broccoli. She said she typically didn’t sell that much — partly because they keep quiet and don’t offer vegetables because they want to make money selling the kids who are still hungry and buy snacks for purchase. In short, the school does not encourage the students to eat healthy and they make more money selling the snacks. Yes. Another example of “cheat the kids to make a buck.” When I was growing up I learned to eat healthy by example.

Well, my husband is a simple man, but he has a saying that I do like: “hell is only half full.” I said this before cancer and always taught my kids this as well. When you’re diagnosed with cancer you’re so shocked and scared of dying . . . and you don’t want to stand before God and have him ask: “I gave you this knowledge and this gift and what did you do with it?”

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • James Early

    What a heart felt story. When will people wake up??? Thanks Paul for all you do to get the news out there.

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