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Ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 1 of 72 women; 14,000 will die. Please know the symptoms and risk factors: read Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. Books at www.amazon.com. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO GYNECOLOGIC CANCER RESEARCH. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writer's International Society of Authors, and Patient Leadership Council for Tesaro, Inc. I WILL NOT USE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN CONTACTING YOU DIRECTLY. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2018.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


     How does one define courage?  "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to do what is right despite fear."  Kathryn Chastain Treat is today's guest blogger and she writes that these words were from my doctor as I faced an upcoming hysterectomy and the very real possibility I had ovarian cancer.  He finished his note to me by saying, “You are a courageous woman.” 

          Karen Ingalls is the epitome of courage as she battles her second fight with cancer.

     I would need to find courage deep from within myself to survive and continue to fight.

     When I decided to return to work after a 17year hiatus from raising my daughters, I had no idea the direction my life would take.

      I battled one debilitating illness after another and stared cancer in the face.  I battled depression that came from chronic illness and the isolation from being a virtual prisoner of my own home due to multiple chemical sensitivity (also known as MCS) and mold allergies from a mold exposure in my work place.

       I was a victim.  I didn’t know anyone else like me.  I was angry!  Soon I discovered that I was not alone; there were many more like me.  Yet despite our numbers, MCS remains a much misunderstood illness in the general population, the medical community and the legal community.

       MCS is the inability to tolerate trace amounts of chemicals without developing horrific symptoms.  The difficulty is that those of us who suffer are not alike.  The amounts of chemicals that can make us sick and the way we react vary:  

                + I may tolerate newsprint ink without any symptoms.
                 +Another person may develop headaches, blurred vision or respiratory symptoms when handling a book or printed material.  
                 +My symptoms for chemical exposure range from losing my voice and having brain fog to coughing violently and developing neurological symptoms.
                  +I am no longer able to wear my contacts or color my hair, use make-up or scented products. 

      May is MCS Awareness month.  While I speak and use my voice for all who suffer daily, May is dedicated to our message.  I was a victim for far too long.  I allowed myself to stay in the victim role.  I wanted to tell my story, I wanted to yell at my workplace for making me sick and I wanted to yell at myself for returning to work when I didn’t really have to work.  One morning I decided that I needed to tell my story (and that of many others).  To do this, I had to become a survivor.  Yes, I am a victim of my work environment and all the chemicals the industry is putting into our everyday lives.  But, I am also a survivor!  I have survived by learning to live in a less toxic environment and not allowing toxins to come into my home.

       As a survivor, my message is to take a look at what you are exposing your body to on a daily basis.  How many layers of fragrance are going into your skin?  There are the chemicals in your:

                                                          **bath soap,
                                                          **shampoo and conditioner,
                                                          **laundry soap,
                                                          **air fresheners. 

       Think about what you are inadvertently doing to the person sitting next to you on the bus or standing in line at the grocery store who may have sensitivity to those chemicals.

         Kathryn’s story of self-doubt, loss of identity, and the pain of skepticism – from the medical and legal profession – is a heart-wrenching journey of endurance, hope, and hard-won triumph.  Her experience with mold exposure gives her a unique perspective on the physical and emotional effects of mold exposure.  Read her story and learn how she was able to overcome these many obstacles to become an advocate for her own health.

My book, Allergic to Life:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope.

Available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  

Signed copies and links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble are available on my website http://kathryntreat.com/

You may also follow me on my blog http://allergictolifemybattle.wordpress.com

"I read Kathryn's book with some skepticism because I was not sure that chemical sensitivity was as prevalent or true as I soon learned. I have become more conscious of any perfume, lotion, or hairspray I use when I am going to be out in the public. 
I encourage you each to read her book and follow her blog. You will learn a lot and most importantly, you will be helping those with MCS."    (Karen Ingalls)


  1. Thank you Karen for hosting me on your blog. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog posts.

  2. I don't know anyone personally who has MCS, but I recently read there are "thousands of chemicals found in the home and workplace because it's almost impossible to avoid them". (Ref MedLinePlus, 6-25-14).

    For me, plastics come to mind as first offenders. There is evidence of proof to avoid many plastic products, whether it be drinking from them or storage of food in plastic containers.

    Knowing this has influenced me to buy glass kitchen containers instead of plastic made containers.


    1. Plastic is a big problem...plus so many other products that I have taken for granted. My awareness has grown as to what chemicals I use from perfume to laundry soap and everything in between. My heart goes out to those many people who have not been correctly diagnosed with MCS.

  3. Appreciate the information on MCS. One of my patients deals with a severe reaction to any scent and it impacts her life daily. Awareness is so important! Thanks for all you are doing to make a difference.

    1. Many doctors' offices now request that patients not wear any perfume, after-shave, or scented hairspray. Now that my awareness is increased, I am more proactive about what I apply to my body.