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Do you ever wonder what caused it?

betula's picture
betula
Posts: 86
Joined: Mar 2017

When my husband was first diagnosed with rectal cancer I felt that I needed an answer as to what caused it.  I wanted to know for the future, for myself for our kids, etc.  Was it his beloved Diet Coke, the couple of beers that he had couple times a week, was it the fact that every job he has had he has been around chemicals?  Was it some genetic thing as his brother had brain cancer at 44 (still alive Smile) and my husband got his at 47.  He was tested and does not have Lynch syndrome but maybe there is another genetic cause.  

When you see so many other people with so much worse life style and they don't get cancer (not that I would EVER wish this on anyone) it makes me wonder if it is a combination of genetics and exposure.  I just wish I knew.  I don't know what that would do for me but I wish I knew.   

This question does not bother me as much as it did in the beginning but I sometimes still fall back there.  

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 1187
Joined: Apr 2017

I think considering the cause is worthwhile if it leads you to change lifestyle factors that may have lead to the cancer.  From my perspective, everyone can live a healthier lifestyle.  However, beyond that, I see little benefit to focusing on the past.  This is the patient's condition now and it will take all of your and his energy to deal with the treatment, side effects and lifestyle changes to maximize his chances for survival.  

NHMike
Posts: 214
Joined: Jul 2017

I was a workaholic for many years, put on a lot of weight and then took almost all of it off and felt like I was in great health. And then this thing hit. I sometimes think that it was the non-stop flu from last year and this year that compromised my immune system. I didn't help by working through a few months of the flu. But I asked my GI guy what likely caused it and he said getting over 50 years. I understand that cell division exponentially increases the risks for mutation so the odds are against you as you get older.

That said, I do know that there are environmental causes as well. I had a few relatives that died of cancer and they lived near an infamous Superfund site. A friend that grew up in a polluted country came down with lung cancer while here. His nephew died of the same thing (he's alive thanks to some wonderful drugs). There are STDs which can develop into cancer. Exposure to radiation, etc. But I did see an article headline that indicated that 66% of cancers are due to random mutations so that leaves some room for environmental causes.

If you looked at me now, I'd probably appear to be very healthy and fit, and I feel that way, except for the cancer. I do see lots of people that are overweight or otherwise unhealthy that are doing fine [I understand that this is only appearance and that they may have problems that I don't see]. Am I jealous? Maybe a little. But I try not to be. I try to work on myself and let others work on themselves, sometimes with a little nudge.

Does this bother me a lot? No. As bad as I may sometimes feel about my case, I can always find people that have been dealt a tougher hand. I went into some of the other forums and found people half my age with cancer and I think that's incredibly unfair. They haven't really even started to live and they have this problem to deal with. Or those with young kids to raise. Raising kids is hard enough when you're both healthy.

plsletitrain
Posts: 253
Joined: Jul 2017

I sometimes wonder if it was my lack of exercise, or did I eat less nutritious food? Or did I eat too much processed food? My onco said it has to be genetics because I'm quite young.  If it was lifestyle-caused, I would have acquired this at an older age.  I sometimes think too hard that I can't find an answer so I just say, "God's will".

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6720
Joined: Feb 2009

My rectal cancer was diagnosed when finding blood in my stool. When asking the doctor what caused it he asked me of history and then remembered my Aunt had it and died at 72 but she never had a colonoscopy and when seeing and feeling symptoms never went in.  It can be genetic which mine was, but also asked if there was anything that I'd contributed to and he told me nothing in my diet, or living situation (inclunding smoking) did anything to contribute to it.  No red meat (as I'd asked about that), not too much pop or anything else.  He told me that nothing was my fault - nothing.  That wasn't the only doctor that told me that either.  My oncologist told me the same thing along with Primary.  Sometimes studies are very wrong and it's nothing you do but genetics plays a factor.   Live life and experience as much and enjoy every moment and don't let some study get you down. 

Kim

beaumontdave's picture
beaumontdave
Posts: 1170
Joined: Aug 2013

Like SandiaBuddy says if it promote healthy changes, then pondering why is useful, but really it isn't something you can determine with certainty. It runs in my family, my aunt died from it and my dad got it at 80, prompting me to get scoped at 49. I had one tumor, probably a polyp gone bad[I need to check that], but I haven't had another polyp in ten years[come Sept.]. I was a bit heavy, I liked my beer, I ate whatever. I'm still 30 lbs more then I'd like to be, still enjoy beer, try to eat more veggies and fruit, but still eat most things. For all I know, it's the baby aspirin that makes all the difference. I understand wanting to make the right changes and be healthier, but I also read about people who are caught up with all these quacky cures and treatments, spending money they don't have enough of to begin with. The last serious article I read on cancer, stated folks are just unlucky most of the time when cancer happens. I guess I'm willing to leave it at that. Outside of smokers, sunworshippers, and those exposed to proven carcinogens, I figure most of us didn't do anything wrong, and most, like me, can be better/healthier, but for all I know, stressing over stuff is a bigger cause of illness than the stuff is.........................................Dave 

airborne72's picture
airborne72
Posts: 282
Joined: Sep 2012

I totally agree with what Dave just posted.  There is a large, well-funded research effort underway seeking the cause and cure for cancer.  I am content to allow them free reign and full responsibility in their efforts.  They are researchers; I am not.

Each of us live unique lives with a different molecular identification (genetics) and exposures (where we live and how we live).  If you translate that into a mathematical equation the number of different outputs is astronomical.  I am confident that eventually they will discover the causes and the cures for cancer.  In the meantime, I am focused on me and my relationship with it.

I read several of the articles written by so many notable institutions regarding cancer and the do's and don'ts of diet and lifestyle.  If it were a test then I would have scored a 99!  Drinking beer was my only flaw.  And now, thanks to Xeloda, I have lost my taste for it.  In my opinion, that puts more credence on genetics than lifestyle.

But despite my opinion, which is only equal to yours, I absolutely believe that our limited and depleting energy is better utilized thinking happy thoughts (remember Peter Pan?) than it is stressing and agonizing over the cause of our disease.  For sure, make appropriate changes in your lifestyle if applicable, but I believe it is equally important to continue living.

Jim

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 1187
Joined: Apr 2017

Jim:  I lost my taste for beer on Xeloda/Capecitabine as well.  I bought a six pack more than a month ago and I have only managed to drink three.  I was wondering if anyone else experienced this?  And does the taste come back?  I actually like beer as a treat and I am sad to have lost my taste for it.

NHMike
Posts: 214
Joined: Jul 2017

Food, for me, has lost some of its flavor. The effect of Xeloda on me overall is to slightly dull the senses, maybe by 5%. I don't feel things as sharply as I used to. I am hoping that things come back when I'm off and I'll see if that happens this weekend when I'm off the chemo.

catkilroe's picture
catkilroe
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2017

I haven't started treatment yet, but my radiation oncologist told me that drinking a glass of wine every day improves the effectivity of radiation. Anybody else heard this? I was excited about this, until I read this post....What is my tastebuds can't stand the taste of wine! 

airborne72's picture
airborne72
Posts: 282
Joined: Sep 2012

SandiaBuddy:

Your post is disturbing.  I thought my loss of taste for beer was only temporary; now I am scared that it might be permanent!

My wife is hoping that it never returns but the Peroni brewery in Italy is hoping that it quickly returns.  We'll see.

Jim

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 1187
Joined: Apr 2017

Jim:  Serious indeed.  Hopefully I will end the chemo on August 27 and then I will be able to provide an update after a month or two.  Maybe it will be like being a teenager and learning to like beer all over again.  I will never forget my first beer and pizza at about age 15.  I pretended I liked it, but honestly I was appalled.  What a difference a few years made.

airborne72's picture
airborne72
Posts: 282
Joined: Sep 2012

I will finish my Xeloda & radiation treatments on 14 August.  My intent is to try a cold one on the 15th, hopeful that it will give me some sense of the old Jim.

It's interesting how we have similar experiences in life.  For me it was 14 years of age (1965).  A case of beer was less than $5 legally; to buy one through a bootlegger it cost almost $10.  Now I am paying that for a six pack.

If you weren't aware, Benjamin Franklin thought a lot about beer as well.

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 1187
Joined: Apr 2017

Jim:  Maybe when you tilt the glass you can start a beer thread.  I am really hopeful that after a while, my tastes will normalize.  The price of beer really has skyrocketed lately.   I remember the cheap six packs at 99 cents, and that was when it was legal for me to drink.  However, I think the quality and variety has improved as well.  No more Lone Star or Schlitz for me.  Life (especially now) is way to short to drink bad beer.

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I often wonder about this. When I see all the risk factors I can't find one that applies to me. Years ago I read that having had IBS I had a 65% hogher chance of getting it but then someone on here a while back told me that's since been disproven. The irony is that the things they say to watch for food wise such as processed meats and all that, are things that I could never eat or very little of because it set off the IBS. I've been a slave to the whims of my bowels my whole life and now they've done this to me? That's justice...

I'm adopted and my birth mother has no cancer in her family. Apparently her mother was extremely overweight and she didn't die of cancer, she died of heart disease and she was older. I've been unable to locate my birth father so I don't know about his side.  

Jan

betula's picture
betula
Posts: 86
Joined: Mar 2017

Thanks for the replies.  I guess I was looking for affirmation that my life's moto of "everything in moderation" did not cause his cancer.  What I mean is that we eat pretty healthy, not a lot of red meat or processed foods.  We have fruits/vegtables with about every meal and do some organic but we don't worry about drinking a couple beers or about having fast foods once in a while or a dessert.  We are not over weight, we are active, etc.   However, I have family members who eat everything organic down to their flour, salt, pepper, etc and now are limiting gluten.  I had begun to worry that I have been too cavalier with my "everything in moderation" attitude and that this may have contributed to his getting sick. 

I realize that we will never know what has caused it and I have to be okay with that.

JanJan63's picture
JanJan63
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I was once told by one of the oncology nurses that colon is the most common cancer she's seen in people who are fit and eat well, the 'my body is my temple' types. She said they're also the angriest at getting it. Which is understandable. I think it's a perfect storm situation. Cancer cells are just healthy cells that won't die. Something has triggered them to shut off their automatic death after a certain amount of time. I suspect it's one day where a person is near just the right environment when just the right thing is happening and it happens. Maybe that person could experience that thing the next day and it wouldn't trigger something. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and everything came together and one little cell went rogue. Maybe a chemical ir maybe a carcinogen in a food, maybe something in the air, who knows. And maybe that person has experienced this thing many times before but on that one day it ws detrimental for some other reason. There are very few cancers that are directly related to something. Smoking is probably the main one. Yet not everyone gets lung cancer. My father-in-law had bladder cancer 25 years after quitting smoking. His doctor said he's never had a patient with bladder cancer that wasn't a smoker or former smoker. Odd, hey? My FIL is alive and well and had it over ten years ago, I should add.

I've said this before but I'll mention it again. We have friends that had an older horse that was put down due to colon cancer. They'd had him for years along with several other horses they'd had for years. He always ate hay and grass, obviously. No other horse had it. But he had a huge tumour. So, a total vegan who was long term in with others in the same environment. It can't even be something like when a pet gets cancer because they've lived with a smoker or someone who eats badly or things like that. No stress, they were always just pleasure riders and actually didn't ride him very often. Horses are physically fit, too. It doesn't explain why we get it but it sure does show you that you cannot look back and wonder what you did wrong.

Jan

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5504
Joined: Jan 2013

I've been constipated since I was a kid.  I was not at all surprised when they told me I had Colorectal Cancer. My first words after diagnosis were 'Bummer!' followed by 'Typical!'

I have not been luck in life, but I have been lucky in love, and thats all that matters. 

Tru

carrillor0529
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2017

betula, 

I have advanced prostate cancer and have wondered numerous of times, what caused it. I have five brothers, with an age range of 56 - 45, and they have no signs of prostate cancer. Recently, I sent my oldest brother an email asking myself why did I contract prostate cancer and listed a number of possibilities that could have caused it. Most of which probably have nothing to do with my cancer. But it did get it off my chest and now I look at it as water underneath the bridge and I need to concentrate on curing this cancer. 

God bless...

 

danker
Posts: 1282
Joined: Apr 2012

I have to assume it is genetic.  Me,all 4 of my brothers, and my son all had cancer!!!

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Not really. Cancer happens

Eddy B's picture
Eddy B
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2017

I assume genetics and all the other factors we cannot control play a 50% part on it.

The last half part of colorectal as well as other cancers must be influenced by our physical activity and western diet (etc a lot of red meats which move slowly through the digestive tract and minimal green food ingestion).

Ucimpark
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2017

Hi betula,

With my husband the cause from his rectal cancer is from crohn's disease, that he had since his 19 yo (now his 55 yo).  That polyps, growth around his rectal area (in and outside area). 

catkilroe's picture
catkilroe
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2017

I have asked myself the same question so many time in the last two weeks  (when I was first given my cancer diagnosis). What did I do wrong? I thought I was pretty healthy, ate pretty much good food and lived an active lifestyle. Now I have cancer and to top it all off, it's anal cancer. The arsehole jokes have already started.. I wish I knew the answers, but it seems no one does and this actually makes me feel better. 

shamayim's picture
shamayim
Posts: 22
Joined: Aug 2015

Anal cancer is very different than colorectal cancer.  Anal cancer is mostly caused by the HPV virus.  Somehow it escaped our immune systems and began the long process of mutating cells over many years.  I do think for me there is a genetic component to it.  My mother had cervical cancer at the same age I got anal cancer.  Cervical cancer is also caused by the HPV virus.  I think there is something in our genetic makeup that was not able to fight off the HPV virus.  It's just what experts think and I agree. Anal cancer and other HPV cancers are now preventable for future generations who are young enough to be vacinated against it.  Its nothing you did wrong.  I used to blame my EX husband, but the truth of the matter is I will never know- it could have been me and someone I was with....I did tell my current boyfriend and was worried about the implications for him but the vast majority of people with HPV do not get cancer, the problem is nobody knows if they are going to be the one to get it.  You can't change the past.

As far as anal cancer and jokes go humor is the best medicine.  My one friend gave me a Bevis and Butthead keychain which I found hillarious...  I had it in my purse and when I was the sickest(week 5 or 6) on on my way to the ER it started going off unexpectedly...needless to say I needed a really good laugh at that point and we were both cracking up in the parking lot!

darcher's picture
darcher
Posts: 304
Joined: Jun 2017

My suspicion is it's mostly genetic and perhaps a few other things pitch in to move it along.  My dad had it at 70 and survived with just an operation. That was 18 years ago.  Me, I got it much younger but my stressful life for the past 20 years helped it pop up much sooner.  Which, in a way is a good thing.  I'd rather get it now when my body is more than capable of dealing with the radiation and chemo than later on when I'd end up a bed ridden bowl of mush. It hasn't all been easy but there have been far more good days than bad.  Avodiing what I call the mental state of the cancer pit is to have something that keeps us busy and focused.  Like that biblical prophecy of idle hands being the devil's workshop, so to is the blank mind the playground of cancer.

 

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5504
Joined: Jan 2013

Avodiing what I call the mental state of the cancer pit is to have something that keeps us busy and focused.  Like that biblical prophecy of idle hands being the devil's workshop, so to is the blank mind the playground of cancer.

Very well said, Darcher.

Tru

aoccc2015
Posts: 37
Joined: Sep 2017

So many unknown things in this world that really have no explanation or fairness so I really just went with the obvious answer, God. Sure I can blame it on Crohns or diet but those seemed to be small things that I wasn't smart enough to take the hint. It seems most people that do believe in some sort of God decided to live a better life after a diagnosis. I wont say I was a drug dealer or killer, but I had things in my life that I just wouldn't change without something scary happening. I am sure there are many people that are great people that had an ending that might seem unfair but hey I consider them lucky for being in a place now without pain and great love. Anyway I have changed those things and I will probably still die in the next year but hey i will be at peace.

Sharring
Posts: 24
Joined: Sep 2017

yup, I've asked myself this several times in the past month. Kudos to all doing the right things! I smoked, loved my wine, and over ate while working my stressful 12 hr a day desk job for years. I too feel for all those younger, less deserving than me who are delt such a hand.  Sadly, I have come to realize that I never really started taking care of myself or truly appreciating life until AFTER my diagnosis....as even the most recent events remind us each day....no one on gods green earth knows what tomorrow will bring...and perhaps I've been given the gift of "pre" warning as a daily reminder!  so i say do something nice for yourself or a loved one and ponder the truly amazing things...sunsets...the moon....the ocean...the stars...weddings...babies..etc!

EissetB
Posts: 135
Joined: Apr 2017

It was my eating habit that causes me had the cancer. Stupid me. Sometimes, I skipped dinner. After 10-12 hours work everyday made me tired and forget about dinner. Once I hit the couch, I'll be snoring in no time. At lunch when at work, I eat junk food from McDonald's which isn't healthy at all. Then, I lost weight gradually (which so unfair for my body built). Stress wasn't good to have either because it attacks our internal organs and causes trouble. I was so stressful from home and at work. Then, one day, it hit me hard!! I had bloody BM!! And my stomach was in severe pain, but I ignored the pain and symptoms for 3 months...and boom!! I had to see a GI doctor. The bloody BM had gotten worse. Colonoscopy was done, and the doctor told me the result. I was on denial when he said I have cancer!! Sorry if my comment is way too long. But what I am saying is, not every cancer is genetic. Some are from being careless and not listening to what their body is saying or telling them. 

benben
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2017

It is not always genetic.  85% according to my ONC and genetic specialist told me.

Normal pathology tests, test for the 5 most common gene mutations related to cancer - however there are about 92 genetic mutations that could contribute.

I sought out a genetic specialist and had the tests done on all the genes.  There was absolultely no mutations in any cancer related genes.

 

Which means my cancer was one of the 15% which were environmental.

I've led a very active life.  Have had maybe a dozen alchoholic drinks over the past 15 years total.  Less than 1 per year.

Ate mostly Fruit, Veggie diet and took curcumin for years.  Unfortunately my polyp probably evolved around 15 years ago and grew to cancer slowly.

Looking back I worked at a tire factory from 14-21 years of age and was exposed to a very big ammount of solvent chemicals and rubber dust without wearing masks etc.

This was not good environment.  I changed to throwing freight and was working for Roadway freight making good income, but one day one of the management told me to sweep out a trailer that had a chemical spill that still wreaked of whatever the chemical was spilt.  I tried to hold my breath and do it as quickly as possible, but it also makes me wonder.

Then I switched to IT and had much less exposure to chemicals, and now I work for myself.

I do have exposure to aluminum and some Acrylic, but its fairly limited.

 

We also have high exposure to chemicals nowadays in the water we drink and the food we eat.

These things need to change for the sakes of our survival as a race as the cancer rate is now 50% that you will get it sometime in your life - normally later.

So while genetics is the greatest factor for cancer environment and life style also plays a role.  I'd suggest limiting exposure to chemicals both in the work place and in your ingetion of foods.

Also exercise and stay active to redude recurrence or first occurence.  

 

Best wishes.

kunsmajs's picture
kunsmajs
Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2017

After my diagnosis of Brain Cancer (GBM) i asked my oncologist what could have caused it.   Without hesitation he answered "bad luck".   My biggest fear is this rotten disease affecting my three children.   I hope he is correct when he says it is not genetic.

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1340
Joined: Feb 2015

Not that it is not important, but more to not let it be draining about the what if. 

They have a pretty good idea of what caused mine.

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