Huntersville Receives $100K Grant for "Cancer Cluster"

- Some Huntersville residents are hoping they're one step closer to getting answers, after a cancer cluster of eye cancers in the area.

A meeting took place Monday to determine how funds will be spent to research why this might be happening in their town.

"It's extremely tough to see someone die of a cancer you know nothing about," said Kenny Colbert, whose daughter passed away from Ocular Melanoma in 2014.  She was diagnosed in 2009.

"Then, about three months later, another young lady was stricken with cancer," said Colbert.

Then, as time passed, more and more young women were diagnosed with the same type of eye cancer.  To date, there are 12 cases the City of Huntersville is aware of-- all young women.

"The first five cases were found in females under age 30," Colbert said.  "It's very odd."

Of the twelve,  four have passed away.  Three of the twelve went to Hopewell High School.

"And four or five lived close," said Colbert.  "The others frequented that area on a regular basis or worked in that area."

Vicki Kerecman was diagnosed six years ago.

"It was shocking," she said.  "I can no longer see out of my left eye."

Her life is now surrounded by constant scans and day visits to the doctor.

"I have to get injections in my eye every three months," she added.

But the town should soon receive some answers.

"This has been a three year battle to have someone recognize that it's a problem and something needs to be done about it," said Colbert.

A grant of $100,000 through the state will allow Huntersville to begin genetic testing and geo-spatial mapping.

"He's going to build a timeline to see where we were at certain points," said Kerecman.

"Once we receive that-- we can test around the town to get a better sense of how that environment is being affected maybe," said Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla.

Which may help the city come to some kind of conclusion as to why this has been happening in their hometown of Huntersville.

"It's our job to ensure the whole area is safe as best as we can," said Aneralla.  "Regardless of if we find something conclusive-- it's still money worthwhile being spent."

"I'm happy these agencies have come together to say, 'yes, there is a problem and we will come together to help in any way we can,'" said Colbert.

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