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Frisco Families Frustrated By Rare Cancer

By Stephanie Lucero, CBS 11 News

FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – Families in Frisco say they want to know why there’s a growing number of rare cancer cases in their neighborhood.  They live in the area bordered by Highway 121 on the south, Hillcrest on the west, Coit Road on the east and Main Street on the north.

“I want to find the cause and the reason” says Kerri Steele, 34, the wife of Will Steele, who was diagnosed in April with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor, or D.S.R.C.T., a rare and aggressive form of Sarcoma Cancer.

20-year-old Joffrey Swieczkowski, lives 1.3 miles from the Steele’s and he has the same type of cancer.  “I’m not exactly sure how the future’s going to work out now so it kind of changes your perspective on things and exactly what you want to do with your life” says Swieczkowski.

Three other people who live in the same neighborhood have also reportedly been diagnosed with rare forms of Sarcoma Cancer.  Marty Sandoval, 46, has been diagnosed with melanocytic schwannoma but he says he’s lucky.  “It hasn’t invaded any of my vital organs so far” he says.

Family members say they’ve contacted state and federal agencies and urged them to test to see if environmental factors could be the cause.

“It’s not really on anybody’s priority list.  It’s not been on a list at this point” says Michael Swieczkowski, Joffrey’s father.  “So in speaking out maybe we can get someone to take notice and get someone to start looking into is there anything environmentally that contributes to this?” he says.

State health officials say only three to eight cases of DSRCT are reported in the state registry each year.  A spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin says doctors are asked to report cases of cancer to the registry but they have up to six months to do so.

Frisco Mayor Maher Maso sent a letter to state health officials today asking that they look at news reports of “Suspicion of a Pattern of Cancer.”  In the letter the Mayor says “I am requesting that you examine this information and provide me with what your agency’s action plan, and timeline, will be to thoroughly investigate this matter.”

When asked whether the city of Frisco would initiate any testing, city spokesperson Dana Baird replied “the City of Frisco has reported these concerns to the appropriate state and federal agencies which have the responsibility, resources and authority to deal with these issues.”

“Someone have mercy and come out here and do some testing, like tomorrow” says Kerri Steele.  “I just want to know if it’s something (in the environment) an if it’s not then I’m really happy about that, that other people aren’t being affected by toxins.”


One Comment

  1. Cheryl K Chambers says:

    Three cases of sarcoma cancer here in the City of Burleson, Texas. Two of those cases are/were Undifferentiated Pleomorphic Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma. My father passed away from this same form of sarcoma.

    I’m praying for the Steel, Swieczkowski, and Sandoval families as they battle through the same battle our family fought through. We need to find a cure.

  2. P. Parker says:

    Finding a cure will be a waste, if we do NOT find the cause and eliminate the cause. I would suggest the cause of these cancers is environmental.

    1. Cheryl says:

      P. Parker,

      My comments to yours are below.


  3. Kim says:

    Ewigns Sarcoma – 2 16 year old girls you can also add to the Frisco List.

  4. Kim says:

    Thoughts were maybe the battery plant? High levels of lead have been found in the air north of the plant new the new Frisco Square and they are not meeting new Oct. 15th EPS standards. My whole family has been test for lead poison by an independent lab and nothing was found.

  5. Aaron says:

    I live in this neighborhood. The Steeles live less than a mile from me. I feel for those families who have been affected by this rare cancer. I also am very concerned about my family. I have two little children – a kindergartner and a two year-old. The state and the city need to do something immediately to find get to the bottom of the cause if there is really a common cause to this devastating problem.

  6. Nancy Ridgway says:

    I live in Nemo Texas close to Glen Rose and I too have MFH sarcoma cancer. I keep hearing how rare sarcomas are, however I believe they are becoming much more prevelant because I have certainly been hearing of a lot of people who have them, just lately. We need research very badly to find out the best way to treat sarcomas (since they are resistant to most forms of treatment) and we need advocates to step up and tell people there are those of us suffering with sarcoma cancer and get the word out.

    Thank you so very much for telling your stories and I will certainly be praying for the Steel, Swieczkowski, and Sandoval families as they battle this horrible disease. May God bless you all. Everyone PLEASE keep telling someone about sarcoma cancer!

  7. Karen Denham says:

    I taught in Frisco ISD in th early 90″s. The smell around then, Acker Elementary, was from the GNB battery plant. We always said the children in that area would have lower test scores due to all the toxins from the plant. Records of problems were noted even back then. Of course it isn’t going to improve until more people end up with cancer. Check out #20 on this web site:

  8. Shiby Varghese says:

    My Family of Four in Frisco were all tested with high levels on Lead. I called all the Departments in the City of Frisco to come and look into the matter. they all said it was not from their water source. A month later the kids level went higher. Called the state and they recommended changing the water source. We brought the Reverse osmosis system and had it installed and 12 weeks later the kids blood levels dropped by half. So now I think the City needs to look into the matter.ASAP, Cause all this lead is sure to cause some issues down the road.

  9. Nancy says:

    That sounds like the water is not good enough to drink. Sounds like Friso needs to pull together and have a meeting. If enough people gather together someone will listen. P Parker…finding a cure would never be a waste…you obviously don’t have cancer. Yes it would be great to know the cause too.

  10. Cheryl K Chambers says:

    P. Parker,

    Having lost two family members to Sarcoma cancer, I am disgusted by your comment, “Finding a cure will be a waste.” I very much understand that we need to find the cause and that one possible cause may be environmental, possibly, but there are many things that cause various different types of cancer. You suggest the causes of these cancers are environmental. Have you actually ever done any research into sarcoma, or cancer, yourself? Having done so myself, I suggest the causes are way more than simply just environmental.

    For instance, smoking. I could get lung cancer, having never smoked a cigarette in my life, simply because I walked by someone who was smoking a cigarette outside of a restaurant or a store, and this has sadly happened many times in my life. Or, due to the fact that employees where I used to work all smoked, the management would do nothing about it, which forced me to quit my job as I did not wish to get cancer.

    But to say “Finding a cure will be a waste,” is heartless. I lost my father to Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma Sarcoma. I took care of him for two years, having taken him to radiation appointments, chemotherapy appointments, numerous appointments too many to count, as he lost an immense amount of weight and weakened daily. I watched my father die a horrible death and take his last breath in my arms.

    I have several friends, including my friend Nancy (above) who are currently battling sarcoma cancer.

    My 9-year old cousin also died from Sarcoma, aka, Rhabdomyosarcoma. My friend’s daughter, only 6 years old, is battling Rhabdomyosarcoma and currently going through radiation and chemotherapy. Six years old. Do you believe that to her parents finding a cure for sarcoma would really be a waste?

    Finding a cure would NEVER be a waste.

  11. Cathy says:

    To Karen my dear friend – There have been several here lately that have been diagnosed with cancer here in Frisco and they are about the age of your oldest child. It is very sad what we have witnessed in the last 6 months — a real eye opener. I know people are trying to do something, but when your child is battling with cancer your days and nights are filled with taking care of them. FYI, the kids and I were just talking about all of you.

    I believe we need to not only find a cure but also the cause. I am just on the outside looking in, but it is so sad to see what these kids are going through. My prayers are with all the families.

  12. Sammy Kaji says:

    I live in Frisco @ Hillcrest and Lebanon and I Fish regularly at the “ponds” the plantation golf course uses 2 water their greens. They have diverted a storm sewer and pump chemicals n2 it and spray their grass, and the smell of it night fishing is horrible. Now all the natural area downstream from there is overrun with water plants from the fertilizers they pump n2 the water over and over again but they “shock” the plants in their ponds monthly because they seem 2 have very little growth in their waters. Also that water system, runs north 2 south so where was that battery factory again??? Now Im sooooo glad I am a hippie and practice catch and release. Still gonna get tested though…

  13. Lisa Vanek says:

    My husband mark has also been diagnosed with a very rare sarcoma, we live very close to Hillcrest and Lebanon in Frisco. He has gone through hell this past year, having a radical surgery to remove a fast growing tumor in his abdomen. he has also had 3 additional surgeries to try and reconnect his liver to his digestive tract….doctors are baffled. He had his pancreas, gallbladder, appendix, spleen, duodendum,(upper stomach)removed and has very damaged liver bile ducts , which is making survival very questionable…he is 48 years old, we have a 6 yr. old daughter. His illness came on quite suddenly, his first symptom was back pain and fatigue. He was diagnosed April 2010, and has since been in ICU a total of 4 times, the first time was on and off for 4 months…and hospitalized with sepsis 2 times. I heard from a friend yesturday of this “epidemic” in Frisco…I will not rest until I find out more, and if it is indeed negligence something will be done about it!!!!!!! God Bless all the victims of cancer and their families at this time…We will be praying for you. Lisa Vanek

  14. Dee says:

    My friend died in October from osteosarcoma and lived in the apartments in Plantation and worked at Centennial Hospital. Is there a facebook page where everyone can connect so we can get more information on where people are and be able to send to the state?

    1. Dee says:

      I should put, she was only 32 and in great health also. It was a complete surprise and no health issues with family.

  15. Sandra says:

    My daughter had Ewings Sarcoma when she was 8. She is now almost 17 and cancer-free! we live in the Plantation Resort. she has a friend that is 16 and battling the same kind of cancer! Why are so many in our area getting caner?

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