I Won the Cancer “Lottery” and How it Changed My Life

By CEH Intern Lawrence Tsai

How did you live your life during your early 20s?  What were your focuses?  Your significant other? School? Job? Figuring out ways to beat the beer chugging record at the local bar?  How about health?

Like many young adults, health was hardly a priority for me.  I almost routinely ate hotdogs for lunch, I stayed up until the morning hours, and the activity that came closest being an exercise involved clicking several hundred times a day on a computer mouse.  Health wasn’t a concern to me, meh, that was an issue for later on.

All that changed when I was diagnosed with Stage I Testicular cancer at age 23.  Initially I didn’t believe it –I thought, isn’t cancer for old people?  Sure, young people can get cancer, but that’s rare, nope, can’t be me!  A few hours after being told I “won” the cancer lottery, I came to realization and accepted the fact.  Being a nerdy guy, I searched the internet universe for answers as to why I contracted cancer, but it’s very likely I will never know the cause.

As if that wasn’t enough, I won bonuses too!  Next came non-alcoholic fatty liver, which are fat deposits in my liver slowly damaging the organ.  Okay sure, I will exercise and eat properly to burn off the fat in my liver.  A few weeks later during a routine check-up, my doctor said my blood pressure was high, and he needs to check again in 2 weeks.  If it is still high he will put me on high blood pressure medicine, at 23 years old.  I wasn’t even overweight!

With one health issue after another, I was angry at myself.  How can I have so many health problems at that age?  At this rate, I won’t live to 40!

Thus I began my health revolution. I learned as much as I can about health and reversed the fatty liver and high blood pressure.  I became very conscious of my surroundings, enough to annoy my family about their routine use of hot water bottles (why are they called bottles?), which emit a weird smell.  Better safe than sorry, I don’t know if the scent is hazardous or not, but they didn’t need hot water bottles, so they switched to electric blankets instead.

I thought I pretty much solved chemical exposures in my home, until I came to CEH.  It turns out that almost all of the 80,000 chemicals in consumer goods have not been tested for long term safety.  I was in complete shock, how can such incompetence and lack of common sense exist?   Now I understand a factor behind diseases occurring at younger ages.

I may never know what caused my cancer, but it’s clear that our current policies on chemical exposure are like a Wild West.  We need to at least make the cancer lottery harder to win.  Say no to cancer lottery tickets in furniture, homes and our bodies, just to name a few.