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Cancer in an Ancient Horse

JanJan63's picture
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

I thought this was an interesting bit of information. A couple in Utah decided to have some landscaping done in their back yard. They found the 16,000 year old skeleton of a horse. It was older when alive and had arthritis in it's back and evidence of cancer in the bone of one ankle.

What makes this so interesting to me is that it's an animal, it's a herbivore (vegan), it was 16,000 years ago so there wasn't a man made environmental issue to cause it or anything like processed foods or anything else of our modern age. It's not colon cancer but it shows how random cancer is. I think that's one of the things that bothers me the most. I can't figure out why I got it. There's nothing I've read or heard about why we get it that matches with anything I've done in my life. If there was, maybe I could accept it a little more? I'm not sure. Or am I looking for a reason for it to be my fault so I can feel guilty for getting it? I do feel guilty although I know it's stupid. My husband gives me heck when I say that but I still feel responsible for the financial issues we have because of it and the worry that my family lives with and all the negative extras that go along with having it. 


Mikenh's picture
Posts: 777
Joined: Oct 2017

I think that the odds of cancer double every seven years. We have an incredible number of cells in our body and we have incredibly complex systems that regulate their growth. To me, they are like very complex software systems with APIs between systems. We are working on understanding these systems but we have a very long way to go. We have guidelines on reducing our risk but the risk is different for every individual. Immuniology is a fascinating area once you read a little about it and learn about the protective mechansims that we have. But we all have random protective mechanisms. I get some things, someone else gets others.

I asked my GI guy why I got cancer and he said because I turned 50. That's as good a reason as any. We're build a certain way with systems that can fail and cancer is one of the consequences.

BRHMichigan's picture
Posts: 368
Joined: Jul 2017

Mike is always so insightful. Jan, I do the same, and agonize over it too. Especially because I believe if I can crack the code maybe I have a chance at fixing it. I have been quite depressed and overworked in my life, worked full time with 5 kids, resentment and bitterness, overweight, lack of exercise, untreated diabetes...plus a genetic history of CRC that I knew nothing of until after my diagnosis. So I'm working on fixing all that stuff now, hoping it's not too late. Since this is not a childhood cancer, I can't say that I believe it's all that random or environmental. Studies are showing CRC is hitting younger and younger people, and many are blaming diet. Who knows? You seem like a lovely person so please don't beat yourself up too much. You seem to be managing quite well. As far as money goes, people always find a way to survive. Never consider yourself a burden. Enjoying your life is far more important wasting it worrying about debt.

SandiaBuddy's picture
Posts: 1093
Joined: Apr 2017


I think it is natural to wonder why and I am confident that all of us do it.  Personally, I have my theories, but the doctors just say for me it is "bad luck."  However, for whatever reason we have cancer, none of us can change the past.  I think we are better served by living each day to its fullest, enjoying the things we love and looking to the present and future, not the past.  I was saying to a friend today, examining the past is only useful if we can learn from it.  Guilt and recrimination are unproductive.  Like the kids say, "what is, is."  I hope you will look forward, watch the sun rise (or set), spend time with your horses and do what you love.  At least for me, that is what gets me through the days.

JanJan63's picture
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

Thank you all. I guess sometimes I just have bad days and feel like if there was some sort of explanation somehow it would make me feel better. I get very deflated sometimes and frustrated at the lack of definitive answers. When I read things like this I just wonder what the hell we're supposed to do. How can we prevent it, how can we help stop it returning or getting worse, how can we get solid answers when this crap has been around for thousands of years and we still can't find something to help get rid of it. Maybe some of the dinosaurs died of it, who knows, rarely does it show up in a skeleton. I still can't fathom how babies get it or are even born with it. 

I was just told yesterday that a friend has stage four breast cancer. It's really bothering me.


darcher's picture
Posts: 257
Joined: Jun 2017

  For me it's simple.  Swimming in polluted water as a child is where it started.  I had my genetics checked and there aren't any cancer markers nor are there any for Parkinsons, Altzheimers, or any other known common illness.  I also found out a very distant direct relative was a viking.  I can see it in my grown kids becasue they are all on the big brauny side but me, I don't look Viking at all, lol. 

 The place I grew up in was made an EPA superfund site because of the gross pollution by the local steel mills. That didn't happen until about 20 years ago which was a while after I already left.  It's funny in a twisted sort of way that something that long ago can take 40 years to manifest itself.  I do think all the artifical things we injest play a significant role in when we get sick.  Considering the time lapse that it may take, any place we've been in contact with over the course of our lives could be ground zero for the inception.  For that horse, who knows.  Maybe he stepped in something that was tainted.  Even then there were other naturally occuring chemicals that could cause it albeit rare I would assume.    

lp1964's picture
Posts: 1240
Joined: Jun 2013

Cancer sucks, we all know that. But put things in perspective there has never been a better time to live than now. Including all this crap the life expectancy doubled in the last hundred years. People were slowly dying of terrible diseases like tuberculosis, syphilis by the millions or children suddenly from a strep throat. 


Over all life is incomparably better today. If it doesn’t feel like it, it’s our mind that play tricks with us. At the same time when we are sick it becomes our entire world and we can only manage this feeling the best we can.

All the best!


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