Digging for Answers continued...
Help has been slow in coming. So far, based on the minimal testing that's been done, no one can say if the chemicals in Waycross have affected people. There’s no clear connection between the cancer cases. Two of the kids with rhabdomyosarcoma drink the city’s water. The other uses a private well. They’re not in the same neighborhood. They live varying distances from the sites of known pollution. The Lotts, the doctors whose son, Harris, is one of the three children with rhabdomyosarcoma, say that they have not been given evidence so far that links the child cancers to the Waycross environment.
Public health officials are still trying to determine if their cases represent an unusual increase. In an initial report on the cancer cluster, they’ve said the cases involve too many different types of cancer and are spread too far apart to be related. They won’t know for sure until the state’s cancer registry has been fully updated, which could take 2 more years.
Spencer, the Georgia state representative, doesn’t agree with the report’s early findings but says he isn't surprised. He wants health officials to consider the whole region as they count the cancers.
“I had a feeling they would dismiss it quickly. It is a big deal to declare a cancer cluster,” he says.
Disagreement About Dealing With the Problem
Not everyone welcomes Tibor’s efforts to show that environmental contamination is making people sick. Some feel like families going through horrible personal tragedies are being harmed a second time by wild speculation and rumors.
“I don’t think that everybody understands the emotion and the basic hell that these families are going through,” says Gigi Goble, who helps run a local nonprofit called Mattie’s Mission.
Mattie’s Mission is named for Goble’s niece, who died 2 years ago at age 6 from a rare and inoperable brain tumor. Most of the children whom the faith-based organization helps live in the Ruskin Elementary School district, which includes nearly all the CSX property and some surrounding neighborhoods.