Second Fallon leukemia cluster patient dies
RENO, Nev. (AP) – A second patient tied to a childhood leukemia cluster in Fallon has died.
Stephanie Sands died Saturday at a Pennsylvania hospital after battling the disease for two years. She was 21.
Her father and other family members were at her bedside.
”I held her and kissed her and told her it was OK to give up the fight,” said her father, Floyd Sands.
”The doctors said they could find no leukemia cells in her body. She spent her body beating the leukemia, but the fight killed her.”
Sands went through chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant and was in remission until earlier this year, when the cancer was found in her brain and spinal cord.
In May, she became one of the oldest patients to receive an umbilical cord stem cell transplant. She suffered stoke in June. The latest round of complications, including internal bleeding, infection and septic shock, came last month.
Floyd Sands said his daughter kept rebounding because she was determined to stay alive for her son, Ewan, now 3. He said family members will care for the boy.
Sands lived in Fallon from 1992 to 1995 and spent summers in the military and farming community before 1992. She is one of 14 current or former residents who have been diagnosed with a form of childhood leukemia since 1997.
Another child in the cluster, 10-year-old Adam Jernee, died June 3 in Southern California after fighting the disease for a year.
The cancer cluster was identified a year ago and state health officials suspect an environmental cause. Federal health investigators last week began collecting blood, urine and DNA samples from the Fallon patients, their families and control group families.
Studies of pollution data and well water are ongoing. State health officials also plan to take dust and soil samples from patients’ homes and former homes to check for any toxic exposures.
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