Contamination and Cancer Don't Discriminate by Stel Bailey

Contamination and Cancer Don't Discriminate by Stel Bailey

We must stop waiting until people are gone to express how much they matter to us. Before my friend Michele Haro died, I sent her flowers to enjoy while alive. A few days before she passed, we FaceTimed, and she was glowing even though she knew the end was near. We laughed until we eventually had to say goodbye. It was the last time I talked to her.

The time spent together through those last few months meant everything to us. She was at peace, which was a gift to me as I have never had someone say they were excited to be in a better place. She spoke of how she felt someone stroking her hair and face as she tried to sleep and felt at ease. She explained in detail what she expected on the other side, a feeling of euphoric bliss.

She knew of her exposures living on Florida’s space coast. She passed from the same cancer as my father and her Brevard County Doctor.

Knowledge can be a burden. I lived blindly in a place of highly toxic exposures from industries like aerospace, utilities, and the department of defense. Having the information and experts like toxicologists share these concerns brought me into this world of information that came with responsibility.

These diseases have been normalized.

My first experience with an epidemiologist at the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) told me he, too, had cancer and that having 12 cases of cancer on one street within five years was “normal.”

Many women hardly in their 20’s getting breast cancer and hysterectomy’s, teens with thyroid issues, all our children with autism (my son being one of them), blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma), childhood cancers, neurological diseases, rare tumors in the stomach and kidneys, decreased fertility, and we have thousands in crowdsourced data.

Additionally, our dolphins have tumors, manatees are perishing, fisheries diminishing, and our ecosystem is suffering.

The thing about contamination and cancer is that it doesn’t discriminate.

Paradise contains palm trees, salt water, white sand, mystical aquatic creatures, and beautiful waterways. Some people don’t like that vision being ruined as we share the reality of what’s happening.
It’s not just manmade PFAS chemicals. It’s strontium, radium, hexavalent chromium, pesticides, and more. PFAS is only a piece of the toxic puzzle. We have the nation's third highest reported levels of PFAS found at over 4 million parts per trillion.

The price of harmful pollution is high, with the highest cost being the loss of life.

The best thing we can do is be there for one another while alive. We are all drowning in life, and it’s hard to balance the chaos of our world today. Please don’t wait until it’s too late to send the flowers. Be present for those still on this earth and future generations, and protect what you love.


Stel Bailey

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