S occer was a great passion in Oliver Strong's young life. Until his death from acute myeloid leukemia in June 2015, at the age of 12, he was an outstanding athlete and goalkeeper, a healthy, lively and beloved boy with a zest for life that inspired his teammates, friends and family.
When Oliver suddenly died in a Miami Children's Hospital, only 36 hours after the doctors first diagnosed the disease, his parents began to look for answers to Simon and Vilma. What they found was disturbing.
The incidences of childhood cancer in the United States rose by nearly 50% from 1
However, what aggravated the anxiety of Oliver's parents was growing concern about the role that carcinogenic environmental toxins, including industrial waste and pollutants, are likely to play in the onset of childhood cancer.
"There's almost an unspoken scientific consensus that it's always about the environment," said Simon Strong, who founded with his wife Oliver Forever Strong – a foundation in memory of his son's ambitious research study with scientists from the Texas Children & # 39; s Hospital, the country's largest pediatric cancer center, and Baylor College of Medicine  08] Simon Strong and Vilma Tarazona Strong lost their 12-year-old son Oliver to childhood cancer four years ago. Oliver's parents kept his room intact at their home in Miami Beach, Florida on June 27, 2019. "src =" https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/5fa277a3f696a35e20fedde6d9b15e4184ed08bc/0_0_5616_3744/master/5616.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=898d2322b7c3bba799b860283b244ce7 "/>
Through the thereasonswhy.us website, the study will use social media to gather information from a broad geographic spread. Families with their own childhood cancer experience will register in the coming months and receive a questionnaire asking for information on the manifestation and progression of their cancer and demographic trends.
Dr. At the Texas Children's Hospital said, "[This research] … will allow families who may not live near any of the existing study centers to participate as they feel comfortable.
We try to get an overview of their environment, where they have lived over time, when the baby was conceived, during the mother's pregnancy, during early childhood, until the time she died of cancer fell ill. Are these residences near Superfund locations or in areas of high air pollution or water pollution?
"When we conclude that different types of cancers have some risk factors, these are important pieces of information, but we want to start with a very homogenous group of cancers and start by examining these patients first. Signposts will appear along the way.
According to Strong, there is hope to eventually get a more detailed picture of the correlation between toxins and childhood cancer.
"Like most people, I thought it was just bad luck and dubious genes, and you discover that we are quietly encouraged to think that," he said. "[But] I have found a paper published by the World Health Organization … it is always triggered by external agents that damage our DNA and the body's ability to handle this damage."
In the case of his own son, Strong admits he subsequently suspects incidents in the months and weeks before Oliver's death that occurred after a week of headaches.
Stark says he has no idea if it was any factor in his son's death, but that he regrets having used Roundup on his terrace to get rid of weeds. "Oliver's brother Edward said they both hated the smell of this stuff. [On one occasion] I looked at the container and saw glyphosate, and saw that it was considered by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to be probably carcinogenic to humans.  "And we all now know all about the jury's verdict on glyphosate. [three juries in the US have awarded damages linking the weed killer to cancer; Bayer its manufacturer insists it is safe and is appealing]
Strong said someone also told him about artificial turf and" the role he could play in what appears to be a high level of cancer among children
He said, "Look at the grass and the black, spongy stuff it contains." It's mostly diced, used vehicle tires, it's petrochemical stuff, there are strict regulations for the disposal of Solid tires, but nothing when it comes to crushing them and using them as a spongy surface for athletes.
I've been a goalkeeper in this area for six months I do not know if either contributor contributed, but he was exposed to these two things, and if I had known better, I would not have suspended him. "
On a larger scale, Strong began to investigate incidence and accumulation of childhood cancer nationwide and possible environmental factors that led to the foundation's launch of the thereasonswhy.us project.
"The International Agency for Research on Cancer Researches Carcinogens in Our Environment, but Focused on Our Healthcare It's all about discovery, diagnosis and treatment, because that's where the money is … and not prevention," he said.
Government-Driven Cancer Research
Private-funded research is likely to become more important as federal funding for childhood cancer, the leading cause of death for children in the US, will decline.  In February, Donald Trump announced a $ 500 million allocation over a 10-year period, compared to a $ 1.8 billion seven-year investment under Barack Obama. The President has also lifted environmental protection, which Strong says has contributed to the "emasculation" of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
There are tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals that have been registered by the EPA, but only a small portion of them have been tested for toxicity. Strong says. "It's in our food, packaging and clothing, construction materials, detergents, cosmetics, toys, and baby bottles." Less is known about the effects of simultaneous exposure to multiple chemicals. "There are hundreds of communities across the country in which In Otsego, Michigan, there was an extremely high rate of childhood cancer, and they managed to persuade the EPA to conduct air, water, and soil surveys. Most communities are concerned about toxic pollution Waste from active or obsolete factories of one kind or another, as well as runoff nutrients from farms.
"There is a similar story in Franklin, Indiana, of all these communities becoming more and more active on social media, get in touch with each other and say, "Hey, you too?" Previously, they served as a tasch and would have heard nothing from each other. Here we enter. We will bring together many of these communities.
Ultimately, Strong hopes to attract thousands of families to the study, with the first 200 being signed by mid-summer. The questionnaire should be ready for distribution before the end of the year. He said he already had participants from almost half of the 50 states and some from South America.
"Oliver was a compassionate, sensitive soul with a strong personality sense of justice, so I would like to believe that we are doing this in his favor, and at the same time it is important to me that it is not about Oliver, but about all families who are affected by childhood cancer, "he said.
"We want society to be invested not in illness but in health. We want young people to be healthy because we live in safer water, safer air and safer products. "