Many may wonder why I am so adamant in my support of bladder cancer awareness. I think it is because I remember only, too, well how badly I needed to talk to someone about it, and to find information that would help me understand what was happening to me. However, when I was diagnosed there were none of these things available. I had great medical care, but there was no informative or emotional support. I decided to try to change this if I could. Since that time, things have changed some but not nearly enough.
As time has gone by, I find out about more and more people who are at high risk for bladder cancer. Those who serve are the highest risk. One of these groups is firefighters, and the other is veterans. According to an article written by Robert O'Dowd, “chemical exposures of thousands of veterans are an indisputable fact. In 2003, the Air Force reported 1,400 military sites contaminated with TCE alone. The EPA National Priority List (Superfund) lists multiple organic solvent and other contaminants for military bases. The potential health consequences of high exposures are medical facts. But these facts haven't reached most veterans.” He is a veteran and a bladder cancer survivor.
Many veterans have been exposed to contaminants that put them as risk for bladder cancer. The information on contaminants of concern and their health effects for bases on the National Priority List (NPL) is on an EPA database easily accessed from the internet. What is missing is the “heads-up” to veterans and their medical care providers. This same lack of information is true for firefighters as well.
Over 130 military bases in the US are hazardous waste sites, with such severe land, water and air contamination that federal action is required to prevent further health damage. This is not about a few empty barrels on an open lot. This is about veterans who worked and lived where chemicals caused mutations and ultimately cancer. Moreover, it is veterans who could be warned and preserve their health. Instead, current policies will lead to late diagnosis and death from preventable cancers. In an article, A Few Good Men and Bladder Cancer, published online at Veterans Today, lists the various military bases where our soldiers were exposed to bladder cancer.
O’Dowd goes on to say, “the information on contaminants of concern and their health effects for bases on the National Priority List (NPL) is on an EPA database easily accessed from the internet. What is missing is the “heads-up” to veterans and their medical care providers. One solution is for the VA to provide the Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) the internet URLs for the chemicals (contaminants of concern) and health effects (diseases) found in the EPA Superfund database. The VSOs could post this information on their websites, allowing veterans and their medical care providers easy access.”
To help spread the word to other veterans, see www.militarysuperfunds.blogspot.com/ that is posted on his blog spot. The list of bases is shown at the end of this news story. O’Dowd says that, “posting this information on any VSO website is not “rocket science.” Lives can be saved from veterans who would otherwise not consider asking for this inexpensive and non-invasive test.”
The American Bladder Cancer Society supports the increasing number of veterans and firefighters who have been diagnosed with bladder cancer, and all those who are at high risk of developing bladder cancer. The word is getting out that there is a place to find information, and get support. Our biggest hurdle is to increase awareness in the general public about the risks, the symptoms and the treatment for this cancer that is ranked so high in prevalence. This is all part of why I give my royalties from my books to the ABLCS, and actively participate in a variety of awareness projects.