Cancer, Motherhood and Why I Fight for Clean Air

BY ON December 5, 2014

jessica_huntThis was written by Moms Clean Air Force supermom, Jessica Hunt:

Earlier this week, I was in the Washington, DC office of Janet McCabe, the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, with members of the Moms Clean Air Force team at my side, clutching a box that symbolized over 175,000 MCAF member comments submitted in support of the new carbon pollution limits.

As a newcomer to DC, and a mom activist with Moms Clean Air Force, I reflected on what brought me to the EPA. Two years ago, my husband’s Hodgkins Lymphoma and his subsequent 6-month round of heavy chemotherapy had a profound impact on my family. A military family, we were living in Alabama at the time and our son had just turned one when he completed treatment. After his health setback, in the Spring of 2014 we were transferred to the DC metropolitan area with a joie de vivre outlook that was a long time in the making.

The way I coped during his cancer diagnosis was by researching and educating myself. I wanted to understand the root causes of cancer. As I read, I began thinking more about my previous aversion to hazardous chemicals in utilitarian items: cleaning products, perfumes, and especially, the chemicals sprayed on our food.

Health was now our family’s mission and my personal crusade. We banished all GMO and sugar-laden products, made our own household cleansers and bought plants to clean the air. The love of my life, and my son’s father’s life was on the line; no expense was spared. Thankfully, my husband is now two years into remission with another three to go until that coveted “cure” status.

That is why joining MCAF at the EPA to deliver petitions in hopes of protecting my family from the hazards of carbon pollution, was where I belonged. As I gripped the box tightly, I felt a kinship with those for whom I had the privilege of standing up for. I remembered what a childbirth educator had once told me to prepare for the pain of labor, “Imagine all those other women out there who are going through the same thing you are, at the exact same moment.” Her message was clear: You are not alone.

Though moms may differ politically, our desire to see our kids grow up happy and healthy is universal. My experience with my husband’s cancer has given me a springboard for action on issues that threaten our kids’ health and the health of our planet. And considering that one in three women and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer this year, the urgency to prevent the flow of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere is of critical concern.

Even with something as awful as cancer, we can do our best to try to control it — by being careful about what we eat and what products we use. But we can’t control the quality of the air we breathe. We need our government’s help with that. That is why I felt a sense of accomplishment and hope for the future as I placed those comments on the table.

Hundreds of thousands of people, all part of my American family, raised their voices to complete comment cards for their families, and demonstrated how passionately they long to be heard on the issue of carbon air pollution. You are not alone. For me, it marked one step of many in the journey toward clean air and a healthy future. And I look forward to the day when we all can breathe a little easier.


TOPICS: Cancer, Carbon Pollution, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, Motherhood, Washington DC