Following a three-year study, the Ohio Department of Health determined there weren`t any cancer clusters in the city and that the number of cases reported by its residents wasn`t statistically significant.
But tell that to Terry Bernosky, the father of a teenage daughter who recently was diagnosed with leukemia. With a worried look on his face, Bernosky walked out of the meeting, during which officials went over the results.
His daughter is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, he said. Yet he attended the meeting at the Avon Lake Public Library to hear for himself.
“I needed to hear what was being said for myself,” Bernosky said.
In 2004, residents raised the alarm – saying too many of their children were being diagnosed with childhood leukemia. That prompted the study to get under way.
But Robert W. Indian, chief of chronic disease and behavioral epidemiology for the Ohio Department of Health, said although the study, which looked at cancer cases from 1996 to 2002, showed a total number of 634 new cases during that time, the department determined there were no cancer clusters.
Aside from there being more cases of skin cancer in the city than there should be, Avon Lake`s cancer rates are no different than any other city of similar size in America, he said.
Still, Indian said the study won`t end the department`s involvement with the city.
It`ll continue to monitor the reports of cancer, he said, because at least cases of childhood leukemia were reported as the study was being done, but they never were able to be confirmed.
Should such confirmation occur, he said, it could push the instances of that type of cancer into the realm of statistical significance.
Indian also said he wasn`t diminishing the pain shared by those in the audience who have had loved ones diagnosed with cancer. He and other state officials urged residents to not stop their fight after hearing the study`s results.
“I, too, regret that those cancer cases that brought us here tonight had to happen,” said Lois Hall, program director for the Ohio Department of Health`s Ohio Cancer Plan. “But don`t let this be the last time you come together to learn about cancer in your community.”
There are things those in the community can do, she said.
Prevention, early detection, active treatment and participating in clinical trials are just a few of the things community members can advocate for. Be your own coalition against cancer, she urged residents.