Health

Surveys of any kind pose difficulties for a variety of reasons, such as the sample employed, the apathy of the recipients and the source of the information used. When people move out or into an area, inclusion becomes an issue. The DOH accepted the fact that there were limiting considerations and that their work wasn’t perfect. The conclusion of the study was that the cancer found was what was expected, compared to a similar group. Of course, if you do a comparison to another area that is infected with cancer, that conclusion isn’t very assuring or significant. Also, I don’t expect any cancer, but that’s me.

I made the scene that night because I lived on Borden Road in Depew at my parents’ house from 1953 to 1968, downwind of the quarry and landfills in Bellevue. Since 1998, I have had cancer three times, having my prostate removed as well as my colon shortened twice. Nonetheless, I still have plenty of colon remaining. However, I do not want any more cancer of any type. My sister Pat also resided at that same home from the late 1950s to 1980 and she was diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer a few years ago. She’s a survivor but she went through a very difficult time.

When I worked in Rochester a few years ago, I met a gentleman who bought a house sixty miles from here. Before that Frank lived on Franzen near Borden and Losson. His mom died of cancer and his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer some time ago. I’m not sure if he is still alive. Frank also mentioned that many people in the neighborhood have either died from cancer or are currently battling the disease. Many of these victims were very young. On the evening of the health report, I met a woman, now living in that neighborhood, who related more instances of cancer there. My friend Bill mentioned that his cousin died of cancer, and she lived in that same area.

At the meeting, my sister started making a list of more Cheektowagans who have succumbed – it wasn’t small. My mother used to walk out her door and head across the field to get her hair done. She doesn’t do that anymore because her hairdresser died from cancer at a young age, as did her husband. My mother has mentioned others in town who have died from the dreaded disease or who are struggling to overcome it. Spend some time with other people who live in the area and you will hear endless accounts of the same.

My sister felt the same way I did upon hearing of the details of the report and she held nothing back – I was really proud of her. She reminded me of Elaine in the restaurant selling soup on Seinfeld. However, she got her gumbo and refused to put up with the soup Nazi. The DOH showed up that night doing all it could to be in control, but that didn’t last very long.

It’s an established fact that Bellevue has above normal occurrences of lupus, asthma and autoimmune diseases because of the industry in the area, not to mention cancer. So how can this reassuring report by the DOH be reconciled with all the conflicting facts? I think the answer is quite simple: flawed, limited and prejudicial surveys are insignificant and meaningless in the face of the documented evidence to the contrary. Perhaps DOH stands for Don’t Overlook Hallucinogens.

Robert S. Swiatek
71 Georgian Lane #3
Buffalo, NY 14221
(716) 636-4225
www.bobcooks.com