Cancer! Dr. Rob returns as our expert for the big ‘C’. We discuss how jabbing radioactive beads in your prostate works, how mustard gas led to chemotherapy, “soot wart,” and common cancer myths. All this plus “Lesser of Two Evils” (would you rather have colon cancer or listen to your loved one being eaten by a bear?) and a special appearance by Marielle Kho!


Say “fuck you!” to cancer the Caustic Soda way!

Hey soda jerks, you probably knew that you can go to the website of the Canadian Cancer Society and make a donation. But did you also know that If you want to be extra suck-uppy, you can select “Caustic Soda Podcast” under the Tribute Gift Information Field, or that there is also a “Where would you like to designate your donation?” field where you can select any of the cancers we talked about including Hodgkins research? Think about it!

Here’s the link:

There. Now you can never say we’re a bunch of heartless bastards.

Music: “After You’re Gone” by Quintette Du Hot Club De France






Green Mile
Toren: 8/10
Joe: 8/10
Kevin: 7/10

Toren: 7/10
Kevin: 8/10

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Showing 23 comments
  • Nick Curnow

    Great episode guys!
    There’s a short story by John Connolly in his anthology Nocturnes, called “The Cancer Cowboy Rides,” which is about a cancer (calling itself “Buddy Carson”, as a joke on carcinogen) thats shaped like a man spreading cancer throughout a small town. Great little story.
    That lesser of two evils was a tough one, and I agree, I think thats the hardest one you guys have done! But this episode was also really great to listen too, I’ve lost two relatives to cancer, one from prostate, the other skin, and it was not a good way to go.

  • banks!

    Cancer is rife in our family. Three of my four grandparents and my mother all died from various forms of cancer.

    Like Toren, I’ve had melanoma as well. I’ve had three cancerous moles removed, two from my back and one from my face. Like Toren I have to get my moles checked regularly.

    Last year I found a lump on my testicles. I got it checked out (as you do when your family history is rich with cancer) just before a long weekend. Late Thursday, I got a message from my dad telling me there was an urgent message from my doctor to make a follow up appointment. So for the next four days, I freaked the fuck out. I got my affairs in order and come Monday I went in to see my doctor. I tell him to give it to me straight. He tells me I have a benign cyst. So I yell at him for framing this appointment as an urgent appointment. He tells me if it was cancer, they would have got me back in immediately. That didn’t really make me feel better. But the fact that I didn’t have testicular cancer did.

    • Joe

      I’ve never been so happy reading about your balls. Glad the news was good!

    • She Fights Like A Girl

      Banks! Can you tell us more stories about your balls?

      • She Fights Like A Girl

        Maybe some about Toren’s, while you’re at it.

      • banks!

        You can re-listen to a story about my balls on the Follow Up episode I co-hosted with the boys. It involves me and an obstinant bicycle crossbar and the results that followed.

        Perhaps if I get another opportunity to co-host Caustic Soda, I can share another. Or perhaps a new segment on Horsetrack Hooligans is in order. It’s the podcast I co-host with past Caustic Soda guests Jordan Pratt and Chris Woods.

        • She Fights Like A Girl

          I kept reading that as Horseback Hooligans, and thinking, golly, that could be nothing BUT stories about balls!

  • iheartlazers

    Interesting episode you guys. The lesser of two evils was a tough choice but I’d also have to go with the cancer over a loved one being eaten by a bear.

    If you choose the cancer though, maybe the bear could also get cancer and therefor wouldn’t be able to eat anymore people (because it would be dead).

    • Daneel

      For me this lesser of two evils was the easiest one. Cancer, hands down.

  • Derek

    I don’t think I’ve actually wriggled in revulsion to anything you had put on the show up until listening to chimney-sweeps slicing off bits of their scrotum. That got me. Well played, sirs.

    The microwave/wifi thingy is really obvious to anyone to streams their music over wifi – as soon as you turn the microwave on the music goes away. The metrics about how little power, compared to light, microwaves and phone radiation emits was really useful – thanks for that. I had never heard explicit numbers, just that it was perfectly safe.

    Well done again!

  • She Fights Like A Girl

    I caught the SGU reference there, which is great because I just met Steven Novella and Rebecca Watson at CSICon last week. You shoulda been there, man!

  • Sewdotcoe

    The Tiger Lillies do a catchy little number called “Cancer” which you can hear on YouTube. I can’t paste the link here, sadly, apparently iPad and Caustic Soda aren’t as good friends as I had hoped.

  • Jadegreendragon

    Thanks guys, brilliant podcast, very imformative and hits very close to home for me.

    I’ve been living with cancer for over 12 years since being diagnosed with stomach cancer at 25. I’m not sure if I’d consider myself lucky or unlucky to have lived through that and 2 boughts of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Recently found out that NHL is back for a third round, and listening to the podcast really gave me a few very needed laughs.

    Being no stranger to chemo, worst thing ever, imagine cold poison being pumped into you for about 4 hours, your body burning up before the nausea kicks in and radiotherapy, not as bad but the itchy skin drove me nuts, I’d still take the cancer over the bear attack!!! But have to admit, if it was a very distant annoying cousin twice removed I might have considered changing my choice. Kidding!!

    Thanks for the giggles, just what i needed. Keep up the great work!

    P.S. Love Dr Rob, more Dr Rob!!

  • Dr Rob

    Thanks to everyone for this very delightful, encouraging, and humbling feedback. It is pretty great to hear, especially from cancer survivors and strugglers, that we gave you some laughs. It’s the only disease I routinely get mad at. We have sooo much more to learn about it, and I’m grateful to anyone who donates via the Caustic Soda link. And, as the Australians say, on your birthday, check your birthday suit!

  • Derek

    Another pop culture reference from telly (I mentioned this on Facebook but thought I’d add it here) is episode 12 of season 4 of the X-Files “Leonard Betts”. It’s about a paramedic who is entirely made of cancer (spoiler alert) and regrows his own head!

    Feels kinda empty contributing this though. All the best, Jadegreendragon.

    • Toren

      Thanks Derek, I’ll watch this before we do our follow ups episode with Dr Rob – LIVE IN VANCOUVER on March 25.

  • Keeffer

    oh man, toren’s scar is nothing. my mom and my aunt have skin cancer scars they call “railroad tracks” running all over their bodies. irish heritage + sun worship + no sunscreens = skin cancer. i thought maybe i would avoid it since i can’t stand the sun and look like an albino, but i got my first cancer at 25. the bad burns i got as a kid have led to 9 cancers so far.

    only 3 have had to be cut out. the others i’ve gotten to use either topical chemo (nasty, it will burn your skin off) or aldera – a genital warts medicine that works wonders by boosting the immune system to the area. at least that’s how they explained it to me. i get embarrassed picking THAT prescription up at the pharmacy, let me tell you.

  • Ray

    The Kids in the Hall have a little something to say about the cause of cancer…

  • bbquilter

    Hey, guys,

    Thanks for another interesting episode! I’m a new listener, catching up on old episodes, and found that this one hit especially close to home because I, like Toren, am a melanoma survivor. Unfortunately for me, my cancer came back SEVEN YEARS after my primary was removed and I thought I was two years in the clear. I went through another three surgeries (including having all the lymph nodes under my right arm removed), radiation (where they turned the dial up to 11 to make sure they got it all) and traditional chemo. Unfortunately, by then the cancer had spread to my lungs, and the chemo had no effect on it, so I stopped. Finally, I had a stroke of good luck: my oncologist got me into a Phase I trial at MD Anderson in Houston for a gene-targeted chemotherapy. It turned out that I had the mutation that this drug targeted, and after being on it for only four months the tumors in my lungs disappeared. I’ve now been on the treatment for over three years and so far, so good! That is completely amazing, because after traditional chemo failed, I was told that I had about 6 months to live – melanoma is just that aggressive. So Toren, don’t get complacent! Keep going to your doctors’ appointments, and keep on making new Caustic Soda episodes! And Joe and Kevin, keep up the good work! I’m having a blast listening to all the past shows, and I know I’ll be sad when I have to start waiting a week for the new ones. You guys rock!

    • Toren Atkinson

      Thank you bbquilter! I’ll be seeing my dermatologist in just a couple weeks! What’s the different between gene-targeted chemotherapy and regular style? I mean for you, the subject.

  • Mateo

    I took way too long to find this podcast!!

  • Him Again

    A little addition to the tragic comic book cancer death of Captain Marvel which I think might appeal to Toren and his lovecraft predilections in particular.
    One of the Guardians of the Galaxy runs our intrepid band of misfits see a rather sizeable tear in the fabric of reality leading to an alternate marvel universe.
    The key difference in this world is that upon his death bed Captain Marvel, must upright of heroes, decided that tear jerking deaths are for suckers and instead opts to enter into a Faustian bargain for survival with The Many Angled Ones a race of tentacle faced, immortal, elder gods who dwell within the space between worlds.
    The Cthulhu look a likes provide Marvel with a creative way of side stepping cancer. He murders Death herself, which is apparently the thing to do when chemo is no longer an option, and thus becomes immortal along with everything else in his reality.
    The nasty side effect of no longer having death around is that everything continues to live, grow and suffer regardless of reason resulting in a dimension of agonised mutated demon god worshipping super heroes which the guardians dub the Cancerverse.