How Did I Get Cancer? by Dr. Rick Boulay


Cancer starts as a result of an accumulation of gene abnormalities. These genes, which control cell growth, begin to malfunction over time. Once enough of these genes are abnormal, the cell begins to grow uncontrollably and develops the ability to invade its local structures and sometimes metastasize. The cause of these basic gene abnormalities is as varied as the cancers themselves. Your cancer likely came as a result of an exposure to an environmental agent which caused changes in the gene.


These environmental agents can be as simple as sunlight or a viral infection such as human papilloma virus (commonly seen in warts) or Epstein-Barr virus (commonly seen in mononucleosis). Use of chemotherapy to treat one cancer can sometimes, but rarely, create a new cancer because of the toxic nature of the chemotherapy agents. Radiation exposure in the form of sunlight, nuclear weapons, nuclear power plant wastes, or therapeutic radiation can also cause cancers. Exposure to toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke and exposure to numerous chemicals in the environment can also lead to cancer.


It seems likely that a combination of all of these events, taking place over a lifetime, are required to produce your cancer. Most cancers develop later in life as a result of an accumulation of these genetic events.


Dietary deficiencies in minerals and vitamins and immune system problems have also been associated with the occurrence of cancers. Treatment with medications such as steroids that reduce the immune system has also been associated with the development of cancers.


Your cancer is likely the result of a number of genetic changes that have occurred throughout your lifetime. These genetic changes have finally led to the uncontrolled growth of cells and development of tumors which we call cancer.


Being mammals, our bodies have learned to adapt to the environment. Not only did we adapt physically, but we have also learned to adapt biochemically. This means that our genes, which we typically think of as stable and unchangeable, are actually very flexible. This flexibility has allowed us to adapt to the world around us and has many advantages. It creates characteristics in us that are required to live our everyday lives. The downside of this flexibility is that not only can genes change for the good, but also they can change for the bad. When the genes change in a bad way, this can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and the beginning of cancers.


What Can Cancer Do To Me
Cancer will change everything—your choices, physical body, relationships, fear, spirituality, isolation--positively or negatively; cancer will re-energize you towards your life’s long-term goals
What Cancer Cannot Do To Me
Discussion that cancer cannot change who you are, cannot define who you are, cannot take away hope, cannot take away love
Draw on your strengths prior to your cancer diagnosis
What Is Cancer?
Explanation of cancer, cancer’s terminology and definitions, and the goal of oncology
How Did My Cancer Begin?
Discussion of genetic diseases, gene abnormalities, sporadic cancer, carcinogens, and genetic instability
Cancer Diagnosis
Introduction to needs, questions, and pillars of wisdom for cancer diagnosis