“I wish there was a way to get our government to step in and do some real studies and give us some real answers.”
Above is a line from a film called “The Beloved Community,” by Pamela Calvert. It continues:
“You’re not going to create dialogue by pointing fingers, because it is a global problem. We can’t put our heads in the sand. It’s arrogant of us to believe that we can exist the way we are and not cause serious ramifications to our environment or our children.”
Fittingly, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The families, recently touched by a rare kidney disease called Wilms tumor, are refusing to put their heads in the sand. This month, they are sponsoring a showing and discussion of the film at five different libraries in St. Clair County.
Marie Kulman, mother of Ireland, a Wilms survivor, said that the film is a documentary on what locals call “chemical valley,” an area across the river near Sarnia, Ontario.
“The focus of the one-hour film is how the petro-chemical industry there has affected their environment and community health,” she stated.
Family members will be available to discuss the film after each showing. They will also answer questions about Wilms tumor. The group has maintained that the environment may be the cause of this rare cancer that has victimized eight children in the Marine City area.
“As we go along we sometimes get into a lull and then something pops up to get us going again,” said Danielle Williams, mother of Erika, a Wilms survivor.
One very big something popped up last week when the St. Clair County Health Department added epidemiologist and Michigan State University assistant professor Dr. Julie Wirth on staff, said Williams. Wirth will work with some MSU interns to develop a survey for the families of Wilms’ survivors and research the findings.
“We’re excited,” she said. “It’s a big step forward.”
A recent fundraiser to finance air monitors raised about $2,000, but it was not enough to fund the environmental equipment needed to detect impurities in the atmosphere. Williams said she is following some leads on possible financial partners. She is in regular contact with doctors, politicians, experts, media, agencies and other Wilms moms.
“We are on a crusade,” said Williams, “We want people to see that we need to clean up our environment.”
Sue Kulman, assistant librarian at the Algonac-Clay Library is also the grandmother of Ireland.
“We don’t have all the answers but we want people to connect and talk about it,” she said. “We’re just a group of moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, who want to bring more awareness.”
Showings are 6 p.m. at the following St. Clair County Branch libraries. Two of the showings have already met in the St. Clair and Marysville libraries. The next three are:
*: Marine City Library at 300 S. Parker St. on Thursday.
*: Algonac-Clay Library at 2011 St. Clair River Drive in Algonac on Sept. 28
*: Yale Library at 2 Jones St. on Sept. 29
For more information, call Marie Kulman at (810) 765-5069.