After one month of research tracking local cancer cases, Sonya Strong has found no trends, but she lacks sufficient data to draw a conclusion. Mrs. Strong has been conducting a survey of local cancer cases alongside the Georgia Division of Public Health in hopes of preventing future incidents.
After her young daughter, Sky, was diagnosed with a rare tumor in 2004, Mrs. Strong felt led to find out if there is any correlation among other local cancer diagnoses and the environment.
Jane Perry, the director of the Chemical Hazards Program of the Environmental Health and Injury Prevention Branch of the Division of Public Health has been charting cases for Mrs. Strong. So far, Ms. Perry has compiled data from records through 2003. In an e-mail, Ms. Perry said the only cancer she found that is significantly higher than the average is lung cancer in men, but she finds no evidence of "a cluster."
"About one in three men and one in four women will get cancer, and so far the data are not showing elevated numbers of cases," Ms. Perry said in an email.
Mrs. Strong said she is encouraged that the numbers are within range, but she feels there is still much not known. She has had approximately 50 responses to her survey, but many have not included all the information needed. Although she has received nothing but positive feedback that she is conducting the study, Mrs. Strong said she needs to receive actual data.
"I feel like I'm at a standstill because I'm just waiting for them to turn information in. I don't know what other avenue I need to take. The process of getting this done unfortunately is going to take the whole village, and I can't do this by myself," she said.
The information needed is the name of the patient, the age when diagnosed, the date of diagnosis, the type of cancer and the address at the time the cancer was discovered.
The information may be sent directly to Ms. Perry at the EPA at 2 Peachtree St. NW, 13th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30303-3142, by calling 404-657-6534, by fax 404-657-6533 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Mrs. Strong at 478-494-3539.
In addition to cancer diagnoses, Ms. Perry is also seeking information of birth defects, significant health problems or rare diseases.
Mrs. Strong said she understands this information is not "just at their fingertips," but she feels it is important to exhaust all avenues of collecting data to prevent future families from suffering as hers has.
"(Sky) is doing absolutely wonderful. We go back the first week in February. You know they still give her a grim prognosis, but we have faith and we just keep walking," she said. "Hopefully they will never find another tumor and she will never have to have radiation again."