May 20, 2016 4:16 PM

Special Report: Cancer Cluster Mystery Part 2

RYE - Multiple cases of extremely rare cancers are killing children on the N.H. Seacoast.

"You just feel so raw and vulnerable," said Maki Pombo, a Rye parent who has been helping a local family with a child suffering from Rhabdomayosarcoma.

Parents in the area worry how at least six children have these diseases only miles apart. They've pushed for the state to investigate but were shocked by the initial response.

"There is no clear connection that we were able to identify any behavioral or environmental risk factors or exposures," said Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state Department of Health and Human Services' Epidemiologist.

At the first public meeting, the packed audience wondered how the state could have done a thorough investigation without even speaking any of the families who have a child with the disease to rule out environmental factors.

"If you're studying this because the people in town have brought this forward, and there's a concern then why wouldn't you call?" said Pombo.

The report used the cancer registry kept by area hospitals as a starting point, but parents questioned if that was enough.

Our NH1 News' Health expert weighed in.

"It's really difficult to gather any data from it now," said Dr. Adrian Thomas. "I think once you start getting more cases of cancer the registry could be used in a better way."

Parents have been the driving force to get the state to open the investigation from five towns to 10 towns. State officials are now finally meeting with residents to take the investigation further, developing a questionnaire about lifestyle and family environment, but parents think there is a lot more that needs to be done.

"Is it the water? Is it the air? Is it something we can control or do something about?," said Pombo.

There's little left of the now blocked off Coakley Landfill.

It's an abandoned 27-acre super fund site that was finally capped off in 1998 after concerns of contaminants ending up in people's water. Now in 2016, the question is whether Coakley Landfill the reason to blame for the cancer cluster.

"We are currently living in a world where we have had 40-50 years of poorly regulated dumping," said Rep. Thomas Sherman, a Rye resident. "And now we are playing catch up."

In the next part of our special report, Cancer Cluster Mystery we explore contaminant sources as parents fight for testing of the water they use every day.

Pombo is asking for your help to support the Carpenter family with the costs that have come with Dylan's RMS returning.

Pombo, along with others, have raised $20,000 but are still short of their $75,000 goal.

To help the family and learn more at their fundraising page.


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