When I was a bright-eyed, fired-up new vegetarian cook — seems not all that long ago, actually, though it’s been more than three decades — I loved dreaming up and then cooking elaborate menus and spent countless hours in a good many kitchens over the years, learning the art of flavor.

Somewhere around ten years ago, simplicity settled in. There were (and will always be) special occasion extravaganzas, but brown rice or pasta or quinoa or polenta with a good pesto or curry paste or tomato sauce and lots of veggies became the everyday favorites. Fish and legumes and soy foods alternated as protein. Eggs and cheese, too, on occasion.

Now, despite a lifetime of health-promoting meals, there is cancer in Tad’s body. Who knows why… the causes and triggers and DNA “mistakes” involved in this disease are better understood today than ever before, but there’s still no way to know all the factors that contribute in an individual case.

We know that with Tad there is a genetic piece in the puzzle — paternal grandmother and maternal uncle have both had colon cancer, though we didn’t realize this until after Tad’s diagnosis. Tad’s enjoyment of alcoholic beverages didn’t help, although his intake was always moderate by most people’s standards. Many of the chemicals we encounter in our air, food, and water are known to be carcinogenic, and pharmaceutical drugs can be toxic, too. Decades of allergy and asthma meds perhaps played a part.

Then there are the emotional and psychological and spiritual influences that impact our health day in and day out. Stress is a biggie. Even mainstream doctors are well aware of this  and many cancer treatment centers (Tad’s included) offer classes in guided imagery, yoga, and qigong, not to mention support groups and individual counseling, if desired.

Knowing what causes cancer can help guide one’s decisions about how to heal, so we keep looking within and without for possible answers…

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