Special Report: Cancer Cluster Mystery Part I
RYE - In 2014, cases of pediatric cancer along the New Hampshire Seacoast started to grab the attention of families. How could it be possible that two rare cancers were diagnosed in multiple children only a few miles apart?
The cases we confirmed are: 13-year-old Dylan Carpenter, 7-year-old Amy Kindstedt, 2-year-old Hunter Kindstedt, 9-year-old Lydia Valdez, 14-year old Sam Thomas and 6-year-old Ellie Potvin.
Word spread of these cancers crippling families in the Rye area and fear crept in the minds of parents across the coast. Residents took their concerns, armed with much research of their own, and asked the state's Department of Health and Human Services to investigate.
"The driver is the parents and the residents," said Rep. Thomas Sherman. "They've been phenomenal. They've been the ones who have really pushed the investigation."
Rhabdomayosarcoma and Pleuropulmonary Blastoma are the two cancers seen in exclusively on the Seacoast.
"PPB" is a very aggressive cancer that grows in tissues in and beside the lung. According to the international PPB registry, each year 10 to 20 cases occur in the United States.
"RMS" is a cancer that forms in the soft tissues in certain muscles and can form in any part of the body. According to cancer.org, there are only 350 new cases of RMS diagnosed each year in the United States. In the high-risk categorized groups the 5-year survival rate is between 20 percent to 40 percent.
Dylan Carpenter was diagnosed with RMS at age 13. His treatment spanned 40 grueling weeks with chemotherapy and radiation
"You can't have a normal life when your family has something like this going on," said Maki Pombo, a Rye parent. "Every day you're wondering what's the next thing. Is it working? Are we going to get through this?"
After a year in remission, the cancer returned this January. As a close family friend speaking on behalf of the Carpenters, Pombo tried to summarize not just the physical pain, but the side effects of the treatment, the overwhelming costs and the constant and long hospitals trips.
"They have to worry about...It's just such a kick in the gut. I mean like to have; it's the worst nightmare. You know? It's the worst nightmare."
Pombo is one of the several residents on the Seacoast fighting for the state's investigation.
"I don't want to hear about another kid in our town who has it."
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, visit: https://www.youcaring.com/dylan-carpenter-556540