Dr. Steingraber’s story is one of crisis, survival, realization and action. A story that revolves around cancer. Her cancer. A story that involves her taking her knowledge of science and using it to enlighten us as to why so many – so very many – of us are getting it.
She told us of growing right next to the Illinois River, and never fishing because the fish were too toxic to eat. She told a tale of going to Sudan to study the environmental and human crisis along their rivers, only to be asked by a Sudanese man why she was worried about their river and not her own back home.
She talked about research into the causes of cancer, and explained that, although genetics play a role, our genes can’t really be changed. However, the environment plays an equal or even greater role in the likelihood of our getting cancer, and that we CAN change.
As though to punctuate her speech, and remind us that the earth can still be healed, nature provided a stunning rainbow. Happily, the rain that followed was considerate, and waited for her to finish before chasing us to our cars.
I left the lecture feeling an intense mixture of anger, frustration, hope and inspiration. As I sit here next to my 8 year old son, typing away on this post, I wonder what his future will be, and if I can save him from the consequences of previous generations destructive, if often unwitting, mistakes.
To learn more about Dr. Steingraber’s amazing story, as well as everything you probably didn’t want to know about how badly we are soiling our own nest, you should read her book, “Living Downstream“, and see the beautiful, haunting documentary of the same name.