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Hooper: Brockovich inspires local women to be ‘heroes’

January 9, 2017

They came to Temple B’Nai Israel on Sunday, drawn by a beacon one woman casts as an environmental warrior. 

Bonded by a quest for the truth, Cheryl Jozsa and Emerald Cromwell were among the 800 who attended an annual event staged by the Women of Temple B’Nai Israel. It’s aptly titled Truth.Humanity.Justice — all tenets that mark the work of famed activist Erin Brockovich.

Jozsa and Cromwell have longed to meet Brockovich. They hope to follow her path.

For nearly 14 years, Jozsa has pursued her belief that the former site of Bradenton Bayshore High School is the site of a disease cluster. Jozsa, a Bayshore alum, suffers from an autoimmune disease and lost her sister, Terri, who also attended the high school, to a rare form of leukemia.

She’s identified hundreds of students and faculty associated with the school who have been diagnosed with cancer and other diseases. The Florida Department of Health is investigating. However, the Manatee County School District says the soil has repeatedly tested negative for contaminants.

Cromwell fears a similar cluster may have plagued her alma mater, Boca Ciega High School. She’s recovering from adrenal cancer, a one in a million cancer, and worries others who attended or live near the school also may be suffering because of contaminants in the old school’s environment. She attended Boca Ciega from 1989-93 and has started the Boca Ciega High School Cancer Awareness Page on Facebook.  Go to article to finish reading.

One in a Million; Not a Solo Act

December 20, 2018

Emerald Cromwell kept repeating the statistic in her head — one in a million. Her family had joined her for this first-ever trip to Moffitt Cancer Center, each unwilling to believe that Emerald — their wife, daughter, sister — could possibly be that “one.”

But the nurse in her knew something was seriously wrong.

For months, she’d written off the added pounds to approaching 40; the shortness of breath to the stress of being laid off at work. For her first job interview in years, she’d put on a pair of heels and soon noticed the swelling in her ankles and feet.

“Being a nurse,” she said, “I kind of freaked out” thinking of potential cardiac issues. It would take two ER visits and the persistence of a physician (and former colleague) to obtain CT images of a mass above one of her kidneys in the adrenal gland. Friends of friends sent those images to Moffitt. Her brother went online searching for information on adrenal masses. More common than you might think, he told her, but the odds of being cancerous? Slightly less than one in a million.

Five days later — the day after her 40th birthday — Cromwell and her family crowded into an exam room, waiting to meet Ricardo Gonzalez, a surgical oncologist at Moffitt.

“He immediately said, ‘I’m sorry this is happening to you,’ ” she recalled with a catch in her voice. “That’s when I knew this was bigger than I thought.”  Go to article to finish reading.

Defining the Elusive Cancer Cluster

December 20, 2018

What is a Cancer Cluster?

And Who Is Responsible for Investigating?

It’s a more common fear than you might realize.

More than 1,000 suspected cancer clusters are reported to public health agencies across the nation each year. But what exactly is a cancer cluster — and who is responsible for investigating?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a cancer cluster as: A greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a defined geographic area over a period of time. Each element of that definition includes criteria that must be met before a group of cancer cases can be considered a cluster:

  • A greater-than-expected number occurs when the observed number of cases is higher than one would typically see in a similar setting (a group of people with similar age, gender, race, etc.).

  • Of cancer cases — All of the cases must involve the same type of cancer, or types of cancer scientifically proven to have the same cause.

  • That occurs within a group of people — The cancers are occurring in a carefully defined population, which may include factors such as race, ethnicity, age or gender.

  • In a geographic area —The boundaries must be defined carefully. It’s possible to “create” or “obscure” a cluster by selection of a specific area.

  • Over a period of time — The time period over which the cases occurred.

Go to article to finish reading