Rachael Malmberg is a USA hockey star that had a promising career ahead of her. When the constant pain in her back and rib area became unbearable, she went to her doctor. She was 31 years old, exercised regularly, and was healthy. What her doctor had to say to her was nothing short of earth-shattering. She had stage four lung cancer. How could someone so fit, who doesn’t smoke, end up with this disease? It took some investigative work to find out what was going on, but the realization of what was lurking in her home was shocking.
Malmberg knew that lung cancer wasn’t always from smoking, so she educated herself on all the ways she could have possibly got it. One of the most surprising finds to her was that it could come from radon. It’s invisible, and it has no taste or odor. Yet, her home was full of this dangerous gas. Where does this come from? Well, radon comes from elements in the soil, specifically radium, uranium, and thorium. When these elements decay, they release this gas into the atmosphere. Everyone breathes in a bit of radon each day, however, higher than average levels are toxic.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and there are around 22,000 deaths each year. Once the gas is inhaled, it damages the linings of the lungs and impairs breathing. How does it get into the home? Well, it enters through the foundation and any cracks in the floors. All homes should have a detector and should strive to keep levels around 0.4 pCi/L. Anything above this level needs to be immediately evaluated. Malmberg had the levels in her home and the home she grew up in checked. She was stunned to find that her childhood home registered 7.9 pCi/L and her current home registered at 6.9 pCi/L. Stunned by her findings, they installed a mitigation system to help reduce the radon levels.
Malmberg had stereotactic brain radiation in 2017 as well as having 22 lymph nodes removed. She has a spot on her brain that her doctors are watching but are hoping its only scar tissue from the radiation. Since there is no cure, Rachael is using target therapy to keep things under control. She is speaking out to others wanting them to know about the dangers of this gas. She has also partnered with Airthings, a device detection company, to get the word out. As a survivor, she tests her home every day. Protecting her husband and daughter is vital, and she is not taking any chances.