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Experts To Investigate Cancer Cluster (KGTV ...Penny Gipson`s daughter, Laura, died from a brain tumor just days before her 20th birthday.... - Jan 24 10:04 PM ET

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 01/25/2002

Experts To Investigate Cancer Cluster

Some Valley Center parents may finally get answers to life and death questions about an unusually high number of cancer cases in the area, 10News reported.

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Medical experts from the University of California, Irvine, have arrived in the area to try to determine the reason, if any, for the cancer cluster.

The first cases started popping up in 1997, affecting people like Michael Cooper.

Cooper has been fighting one of the most aggressive forms of leukemia since last summer. After several rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell replacement, Cooper's chances of survival are better, but the fight has left his family emotionally and financially exhausted.

"Everything from financial to emotional, it has been the most horrifying experience of our lives," Cooper's mother, Kim, said.

Cooper is not alone.

Penny Gipson's daughter, Laura, died from a brain tumor just days before her 20th birthday.

"It looked like she was going to make it. It really did," Gipson told 10News.

Valley Center residents have documented 14 cases of childhood cancer in the last five years, 10News reported. The small community began to pick up on the trend, comparing notes.

Parents believe there may be a link in the cases, with most of the children affected living in the same general area.

"Some of are main concerns are with pesticides," Gipson said. "We'd like to have the soil and water tested at the homes of the children who have been diagnosed with cancer. And the school, too."

The experts from UC Irvine will be joined by members of the California Cancer Registry in searching for an answer.

"People are listening to us, and that's all we're asking for. If there's nothing, then there's nothing. But if there's something, let's look into it," Gipson said.

A community forum will be held Saturday to answer residents' questions. The experts will not have any answers about the existence or lack of a cause but will seek community input:

Valley Center Community Forum
Saturday, January 26th
V.C. Upper Elementary School gym
1p.m.-4 p.m.

Regardless of the official findings, the Cooper family said they are focused on one thing: making it to the day when Michael feels like himself again.

"All I want is: My son to have a life again, and to just put all this behind us," Kim Cooper said.

A fund has been set up to help the Cooper family deal with the expenses sparked by his cancer treatments:

Michael Cooper Fund
CA Bank & Trust, Valley Center

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