HIGHLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Residents of a small Hudson Valley town have raised concerns after a number of children have been diagnosed with cancer.
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, the trend has sparked a New York State Department of Health investigation.
Cameron Lucas, 4, is full of energy and smiles, but is in the midst of a battle.
“The oncology doctor as soon as she looked at his labs knew that he had leukemia,” Stephanie Lucas told Champion.
Cameron was diagnosed in March following frequent fevers and then pain in his arm.
“It was just shocking. You never expect it to happen to your child,” said Lucas.
Stacey Malheiro’s 9-year-old daughter Alexandra also has leukemia.
“When my daughter was diagnosed, all of a sudden, the next kid, the next kid,” Malheiro recalled.
In all, six kids who live in the small town of Highland in Ulster County have been diagnosed with childhood cancers in the past 20 months.
“I just find it very coincidental that all these children in a matter of 20 months have been diagnosed with the same thing,” Malheiro told Champion.
The state health department has launched an investigation into the possible cancer cluster.
Highland Town Supervisor and lifelong resident Paul Hansut said the trend has him concerned. He noted the area has a rich history in farming, which some are now questioning.
“They would be spraying in the back and picking the apples and all that kind of stuff. You never really thought about it at that time,” Hansut told Champion. “I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. That’s kind of why we’re hoping to get some data collection and get some experts in.”
“I do want answers even though it’s not going to change my situation whatsoever. But it may give me a little peace of mind,” Malheiro said,
“Something’s going on,” Lucas said.
State health officials won’t say how long their investigation will take. As part of the probe, parents of children diagnosed with cancer will be interviewed.
In his search for answers into what’s making the children sick, Hansut had the city’s water system checked but no problems were found.
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