The Top 6 Things We’ve Changed Since My Cancer Diagnosis

When I was diagnosed with the big C, I began to fully realize that what I put in to my body affects my health and well being. We’ve all heard “You are what you eat,” but it wasn’t until my diagnosis that I really bought in to that statement. Our family has made a lot of changes in how we eat and the products we use to try to minimize our future cancer risk. As a mom, I want to do everything I can to keep my sweet babies from having to go through any health issues that may (or may not) be preventable.

During my first appointment with my oncologist I asked what I thought was a logical question: “What causes thyroid cancer?” He basically laughed in my face and said that if he knew that he would win a Nobel Prize and be wildly famous. So, I followed up with “You are the expert here, what do YOU think causes thyroid cancer?” He explained that his research isn’t complete, but based on his expert knowledge he would attribute a few factors to the sharp increase in thyroid cancer. The main factor he believes causes thyroid cancer is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Below I list the Top 6 Things We’ve Changed Since My Cancer Diagnosis, including why you should eliminate PFOA’s from your home.

The Top 6 Things We’ve Changed Since My Cancer Diagnosis

1. Eliminate PFOA’s

PFOA is a chemical originally made by 3M and is linked to thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and a whole host of other health problems. According to the EPA’s website, in 2006 the government agency asked the top eight companies producing or using PFOA’s in their products “to work towards elimination of these sources of new exposure to PFOA by the year 2015”. Well, thanks EPA! You obviously know that this chemical is hazardous to human health and you ask for to be eliminated over the next 9 years. Did PFOA’s cause my thyroid cancer? I will never know. However, I did use products daily that included this chemical. PFOA’s can be found in Teflon coated non-stick cookware, microwave popcorn and stain proof carpets and upholstery. One of the first major changes we made was to toss out our beloved Pampered Chef Non-stick cookware. We now use good old cast iron pans and All-Clad pots. I was hesitant at first to make the switch because I loved the easy clean up and convenience of old cookware. However, a smart gentleman at Williams-Sonoma taught me how to change the way I cook to make nearly every pan be non-stick. He told me this saying that keeps food from sticking to the pan: “warm pan, cold oil”. Simply heat up your pan, then add cold (or room temperature oil) to make your pan less likely to stick.

2. No Soda.

This one is hard. HARD I tell you! I knew the day I was diagnosed that I needed to quit soda. However, I was addicted. I wasn’t the crazy gal who chugged a two liter a day, but I felt like I needed soda several times a week, maybe even daily. I looked forward to drinking it and craved it often. As soon I was diagnosed I scaled my soda habit to once a week and boy was it a long seven days waiting in between. But a funny thing happened, after a few months I would forget to drink a soda a week and the week turned in to 10 or 12 days. Soon I realized that I didn’t crave it any more. I’m happy to say that the last time I drank soda was October 2013. It took 9 months, but I kicked that habit to the curb. Now, I have had a sip here and there just to taste it, and you know what? It’s gross! I don’t think I would be able to drink a can of Coke right now if I tried. I know that is crazy talk to some of you (it was to me at first), but I promise it’s true. If you quit drinking it, you’ll quit craving it and eventually it will not even taste good. Plus, have you seen what soda does to your body? One last note on soda: several types of soda, including Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper have an ingredient called brominated vegetable oil (BVO). This ingredient blocks iodine absorption in your thyroid and can be toxic. Just don’t drink it!

3. No Parabens.

Parabens are chemicals that are used as a preservative and is mainly used in cosmetics. Since I have thyroid cancer, my risk of other cancers including breast cancer has nearly doubled. My doctor informed me that there is a link between parabens and breast cancer, so for that reason alone, I have stopped buying products with parabens in them. Check the ingredient labels on your bathroom counter and in your make-up bag. If you see these words on the label, I suggest that you throw it out: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Now, if you google parabens you will find studies that say they are completely safe. However, I’m going to go with my doc on this one and play it safe.

4. No Fake Sugar (aka: artificial sweetner).

Honestly, I can’t believe people are still eating fake sugar. I get it, it’s calorie free and seems like a great alternative to regular sugar. My friends, that couldn’t be more far from the truth. There are LOTS of health products out there that tout health and wellness and “safe” weightloss and include these nasty chemicals that go by the names of sucralose, aspertame and sacchrin. These three ingredients are NOT food, they are chemicals. In fact, sucralose alone, which goes by the name Splenda, can cause a whole slew of health problems. The craziest thing about “foods” with a diet label is that they all contain fake sugar, which increases obesity. Have you ever seen a super healthy, fit person who chugs diet soda? Nope, they are all drinking water!

5. Minimize Real Sugar.

This is a tough one also. You know we love to party, and a party without cake is just a meeting. So… we eat cake, but we eat it sparingly. We have minimized our sugar intake by minimizing the times per week that we indulge in dessert. We used to have dessert 4-5 times per week. Now, we try to get that number to one day a week. It takes some planning and a whole lot of will power, but it’s doable. Sugar causes inflammation, which in turn can lead to cancer. Also, fat gets a bad rap for making us fat and clogging our arteries. The real truth is fat is good – our bodies need fat to operate. What our bodies do not need is sugar! Fat doesn’t make us fat; sugar makes us fat.

6. Eat REAL Food and More Local and Organic Foods.

Our motto is simple. If you can grow it or kill it: eat it. We try to shop at local stores that grow local meats and veggies. When we shop at big box stores we try to shop the perimeter and limit the items we buy in the actual aisles. Sure it takes more time and effort to cook whole foods, but your health is worth it! I promise! We recently purchased a farm and will be living on it full time in the next few years. One of my life goals is to grow our own food. I can’t wait to raise chickens and cows and have a big garden. That way I will know exactly where the food we eat is coming from and what it contains. Thankfully, for now there are great organic options at the grocery store that will do for now!

Obviously, I’m not a doctor and have no medical training, so please don’t take anything I say as medical advice. However, I have done LOTS of research on my health and wanted to share what we have changed in the last two years.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I read Dr. Brownstein’s book “Iodine: Why you need it, why you can’t live without it” and after further research, I started taking iodine supplements (2009). My TSH which was 2.97 dropped to 0.97 within a few months (around 1.0 is “ideal”). After 18 months of infertility, I finally got pregnant!

    Iodine is sorely lacking in our diet (along with a number of other nutrients and minerals) and without it, our bodies absorb and retain toxic materials (b/c iodine and toxic substances compete for the same receptors). Once we obtain enough iodine, the toxic substances leave our bodies and we can achieve more ideal thyroid (and general) health.

    B/c of the infertility treatments I had, I’ve studied a TON about female hormones and now believe that b/c of the chemicals we encounter (many of which you mentioned in your post), many of us live in a world of estrogen dominance. Excess estrogen is one of the leading causes of cancers (unopposed estrogen). Knowing what I know now, I also use over-the-counter progesterone cream (estrogen and progesterone work like ying/yang…if you have to much estrogen, by default, you don’t have enough progesterone).

    If your previous cancer diagnosis makes you more at risk, you can research progesterone and determine if you think you’d benefit from progesterone supplementation to decrease your risk of the female cancers (uterus, breast, etc).

    Thanks again for sharing 🙂 Best wishes for continued health in the years ahead!

    • Allie Rae says:

      Jessica, thank you so much for the info on progesterone. I have not done any research on it and it sounds like I need to! Also, yes, iodine is crucial! I have to go on a completely iodine free diet for three weeks before my scans, but I make sure I feed our family foods with iodine because it is so important. Congrats on getting pregnant; what a blessing!

  2. Good list!!! I grew up with so many of these “rules” already in place!! Very cool you bought a farm!!! :0) blessings!!!!

  3. Aunt Sally says:

    Oh my I saw my 3M stock go bong when you mentioned PFOA. Glad to read this year it will be phased out of 3M products. Thanks for tips on other bad stuff. I have started using honey and drink almond milk . Giving up a coke living in suburb of city where coca cola originated would be tough, haha!

  4. Cristina says:

    Hello! I recently had a baby and I wanted to make sure she stayed ad pure as she came out of me. I luckily was able to nurse and when she started eating I made sure to buy organic for her and made sure to use all the recommended brands of cleaners and detergents. I found your blog a while back and after reading your testimony I began to make changes to our household and how we view what we use and eat. I found recipes for diy chemical free cleaners mostly with essential oils but while I was researching I came across Norwex cleaning cloths. It’s a chemical free way to clean with using the cloths and water! I think you would love them and enjoy reading about them! Just thought I’d share with you because you are what started me on my search to change our life style!

    • Allie Rae says:

      I’ve heard of Norwex, but haven’t ever used it! Thanks for reminding me to look in to their products! I use Melaleuca cleaning products now, but am always up to try something new! Doesn’t it feel good to take care of our families without the worry of what we are putting in their little bodies?

      • I am saving up for an essential oil starter kit and have read about melaleuca, I cannot wait to get some and continue to find natural ways to help my baby and family. I fell so in love with Norwex because you just use water and pick up everything! Plus they self clean because of the silver which is a nice quality in towels and the face cloths and baby wash cloths…no soap and still an amazing clean! It’s funny how excited and proud I feel about throwing out all cleaning products! I hope you love them too! You can look at you tube videos after you do your research to see them in action also! 😉