Salem mother pushes for answers in rare cancer cluster

Salem mother pushes for answers in rare cancer cluster

SALEM, Ore. -- Lenette Bultema’s son, Randy, died in July after a bitter battle with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.

The peculiar part of his story: He’s one of seven kids who have been diagnosed with the disease and one of three who have died. They all live in a three-mile radius in Salem.

"You spend your time, and I can speak for a couple other parents, you watch them die. Parents shouldn't have to do that (and) that’s tough,” Bultema said. “I don’t want any other parent to do that."

The cancer cluster and Bultema’s story prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to begin investigating the trend.

The agency released a statement on Wednesday evening, saying it is reviewing data and contacting federal and state health officials for more background on the community’s concerns.

“Our first goal is to hear from the community, get a clearer picture of what’s happening local, and, determine the best approach and the right tools to assess local environmental factors,” the agency said.

Bultema said she’s relieved the agency is stepping in and taking a closer look. She feels a strong pull to speak up and push for answers.

“If there’s something there, let's figure out what it is, let's clean it up ... so nobody else gets sick, that’s what I can do – that’s for Randy – because that’s what Randy would want,” she said.

A search for answers may not result in anything definitive, but for the sake of others, she said she has to try.

But if the EPA doesn't come back with an answer, Bultema said she'll have done what she could.

“But to do nothing, what kind of person would I be?” she said.