As spoken to Emma Lodge | August 2018
Leading the way in chemical free living, Jillion Exton is the brain child and inspiration behind Chemical Free Community – on online resource that makes it easy for families to find ways to reduce their toxic exposures and supports the growth of chemical free businesses.
After surviving her own “cancer adventure”, Jillian became aware of the risk factors associated with her situation, in particular the chemicals that surround our everyday environment. Jillian knew she had to make some changes, but frustrated at how difficult it was to start the transition, she decided to turn her frustration into motivation and create Chemical Free Community.
With a focus on health prevention rather than cure, Jillian shares her journey to empowerment.
Emma: Tell me when did your ‘cancer adventure’ as you call it begin?
Jillian: 4pm Christmas Eve 2009, and very much unexpected. With a background in physical education, I was fit and healthy with a good diet, so family and friends were completely shocked when they heard my diagnosis.
Emma: How did you choose to navigate the journey?
Jillian: I committed to two of the three conventional treatment protocols offered by my medical team – chemotherapy and radiation which I didn’t take lightly as I had concerns about what the treatments were doing to my body – not just the cancer cells. I took a complimentary approach to the treatment with the support of my brother who’s a western medicine practitioner. I did challenge the boundaries throughout my treatment to ensure I was minimising side effects of treatments I did a lot of research and turned my home office into my own personal cancer research centre.
“As I identified the risk factors that contributed to the cancer, I just kept ticking the boxes – stress, gynecological issues, hormone issues, no children. So it became apparent that it wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ it would happen, that was a real eye opener for me”
Emma: It must have been really confronting for you identifying those factors.
Jillian: Yes it was. To realise my body was capable of fostering the growth of cancer, meant I needed to revaluate my entire lifestyle and make changes to minimise the risk of its reoccurrence. This involved taking a good look at the whole spectrum, not just at the cellular level but everything from diet to emotions, hormones, stress, immune and my environment. That’s when I made the connection between toxic chemicals and cancer.
Emma: So that’s how Chemical Free Community began?
Jillian: Yes, that’s the last piece of that puzzle.
“I made the connection between toxic chemicals and cancer, particular EDC’s (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) which act like estrogen in the body and would have been a large contributor to my ‘estrogen dominance’ state”
That’s when I decided to remove chemicals from my life and look for safer alternatives. I was searching for non-toxic cleaning services initially, and the more I researched and discussed with others it became apparent there was a gap, people were looking for safer alternatives to a whole range of services not just food and cleaning products, and that’s how the Chemical Free Community began. The directory started with cleaning products and services, then the list got longer; beauty, hairdressers, pet care, pest control, holistic dentistry, dry cleaning, paints and carpets, mattresses, clothing, accommodation. It’s amazing when you delve in, there are so many everyday items that are impacting our health and adding a chemical burden to our bodys. For example, conventional dental practices are toxic and fraught with health dangers from amalgam fillings and root canals. Then there is ‘Perc’ that’s used in our dry cleaning that is now classified as a toxin and a “likely human carcinogen”. You will find these, toxic free dentists, dry cleaners and other services on the Chemical Free Community directory. We are still growing – it’s a big task!
Emma: There’s so much we take at face value and just don’t realise what lurks within, and we’re led to believe what’s on the shelves is safe when really there’s a lot of toxic stuff out there.
Jillian: Oh gosh yes there’s so much you’ll find on supermarket shelves and in everyday ordinary households. Today the average person douses themselves with over 500 chemicals between having a shower and getting ready for work. There’s something like 200,000 new chemicals produced every week with the majority of them being untested and potentially toxic, it’s increasing at a phenomenal rate with most not being approved for human safety before being released.
They also keep changing the names of them, so it’s very difficult for consumers to know which ingredients are safe and which should be avoided. Take BPA for example, most people know that BPA is an endocrine disrupting chemical, it interferes with hormones which has the potential to impact the reproductive system, this is why it was banned from babies bottles.
We now have ‘BPA FREE’ marketing on bottles so people automatically assume the product must be safe, but what most people are not aware of is what it’s been replaced with. BPS is a popular substitute, so those who have done their research will know that this chemical is as bad if not worse than BPA because it is still within the same chemical family. Marketing has got a lot to answer for.
Emma: I’ve been an avid label reader for years and it still gets confusing! My philosophy is if it reads like a chemical then it probably is. Great thing is I’ve actually minimalised my shopping list going chemical free and saved money.
Jillian: It really is about going through your home, checking ingredients in products and minimising exposure. Chemfree Community has been such a great resource. I love that there are now more non-toxic products and services readily available and if you’re really set on finding alternatives you can find them, but you do need time to hunt them down.
Emma: So establishing Chemfree Community has been quite profound for you. Your diagnosis in 2009 inspired you to create Chemfree Community, and then this year Chemfree helped you to overcome a potential reoccurrence.
Jillian: Since finishing my treatment 8 years ago I’ve been focused on prevention. In addition to my regular appointments with my surgeon and oncologist, I’ve also been tracking myself with thermography, which is a digital image that identifies heat in the body – red indicates areas of inflammation and green indicates no inflammation. I’ve actually been having thermography since before I was diagnosed in 2009, at that time it highlighted an area of concern, however I attributed that inflammation to previous surgery and didn’t take any action to investigate further. A year later I was diagnosed. Lesson learned! Post cancer I have chosen to opt out of mammograms for a number of reasons and maintain thermography. I had a very stressful year in 2017, being a confessed workaholic, I got myself into a stressful situation again. My body was telling me there were some things that were not right but I kept pushing on. Eventually when I got round to having my thermography appointment I saw the results showing red patterns on my breast and I knew instantly that was a huge warning sign. I could see I was in a state of inflammation, it was a very similar picture to the imaging I had a year before my diagnosis in 2009.
“Although I was not formally diagnosed with breast cancer this time around, it was very clear that if I didn’t implement some changes immediately, then I would potentially be looking at a future diagnosis”
I had four month before my regular yearly check-up with my surgeon, this gave me time to make some changes and an opportunity to reverse the inflammation with natural non-evasive options. Through the Chemical Free Community I had access to resources, people, product and services that could help.
Emma: So what protocols did you implement to reverse the inflammation?
Jillian: Referring to Dr V’s (Dr. Veronique Desaulniers) book ‘Heal Breast Cancer Naturally as a basis, I developed a four stage plan of action that introduced different treatments along the way. I immediately switched to the Kaufmann Diet which is an anti-fungal diet no grains, no sugar. I then started Gumbi Gumbi – an Aboriginal bush medicine, research reports that it prevents cancer cells from splitting and dividing. Other things I included were bowel cleanse, immunity boosters such as herbs, essential oils & probiotics and daily sessions on a Biomat that uses far infrared light to heat up cells. I followed the BioMat protocol for thermal therapy. Overall what I found most invaluable during these stages of the program was having access to thermography, every three weeks I would have thermography images taken to monitor and track my progress to see if my patterns were changing. I knew my body was fighting whatever it needed to fight and gradually the red started turning green, the changes were positive. By 9 weeks I had reduced my inflammation, 14 weeks I was predominately green and then 2 weeks after I got the all clear from my surgeon.
Emma: Wow that must have been so encouraging to be able to see the progress you were making. What have you learnt from this experience?
Jillian: This experiment has made me realise that my body has the ability to heal itself. The ability to identify the situation at an early stage, make some changes and then to be able to track it was both empowering and reassuring. It’s also made me realise I’m not indestructible and that I need to treat myself with care and not become a workaholic, which so many of us are guilty of these days. I think it’s so important that we recognise what a healthy level of busy is compared to unhealthy busyness so we can maintain a level of balance.
Emma: Oh so true. I think we need to start a new trend of unbusying ourselves and seeing how life changing that can be.
Jillian: Haha I’m in!