For cancer survivor, baking soda takes on new meaning

Kathy Paul practices law on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

In the age of global communication, it’s easy to get buried by the onslaught of new products vying for our attention. I just saw an ad on Facebook for a bag that catches your dog’s poop. No, I’m not linking to it, but it does have some relevance to this story.

I grew up in the 80’s and back then, baking soda was a workhorse product. My child’s mind marveled at the seemingly endless amount of uses for it. Fast forward about 20 years and baking soda is still going strong.

I talked to Kathy Paul, who waged her own battle with breast cancer. During those difficult days, she found baking soda to be just what the doctor ordered. Seriously, it’s what the doctor ordered.

“For the six weeks I had radiation treatments after breast cancer surgery, my doctors didn’t want me to use regular commercial deodorant because they thought that the chemicals would increase the severity of burning and irritation to my radiated skin,” Paul said.  “It was the middle of the summer and since I spend a lot of time outdoors in the Maryland heat, I wasn’t about to go without SOMETHING to try to control my body odor.”

It’s strange to think of a product with the word “baking” as being used to cover up bad smells, but baking soda works in even more hostile climates than the human armpit.

Belzoni enjoys a fresh litter box, thanks to baking soda’s powerful stink-killing qualities. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

“I’d been sprinkling baking soda in my cat’s litter box for years to cut down on the smell so I figured if it worked for the cat smell, it should work for mine, too,” Paul said.

The process of dusting oneself in baking soda may not seem like a big deal, but to her surprise, it evolved into something else. She purchased the required powder puff to apply and soon found the substance to be not only functional, but therapeutic as well.

“As treatment wore on, to cheer myself up, I turned it into a bit of a game and started dusting lots of other body parts,” Paul said.  “After a while, a thin film of powdery baking soda regularly covered my bathroom counters, cabinet and floor.”

Paul said baking soda wasn’t quite as effective as commercial deodorant, but it was there for her when she needed it. The little orange box still has a place in her home.

“To this day, I still have that container in my bathroom,” Paul said with a smile. “Every once in a while, I dust my arms or legs if my skin is a little irritated from the heat or working in the garden.  Who knew?”

Kathy and family at their home in Maryland. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

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