Franklin families seek answers on cancer cases

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — Parents of cancer patients are meeting face-to-face with state health leaders Monday night after families expressed concern about recent cancer cases in Johnson County.

Families say they want to find out if the diagnosed cases are related and if anything can be done.

Officials said representatives from Indiana American Water, Indiana State Department of Health and Indiana Department of Environmental Management would attend the meeting.

They’ll face questions from local families like the Meades, who were rocked by cancer in 2010.

“Just devastating, especially when you look down the eyes of a 16-year-old and he’s crying and he asks if he’s gonna die,” Dwayne Meade said.

Jan. 27, 2010 is the day Evan Meade was diagnosed with cancer.

He spent the next nine months in and out of treatment, sending his dad, Dwayne, on an emotional roller coaster.

“To go from a 210 pound offensive lineman in high school to probably after his third round he was down to 146 pounds. Just a shell of his self,” Dwayne said.

Today Evan is 260 pounds and a senior at Butler in full remission. It was the fight of Evan’s life and Evan won.

Now his family is fighting for information.

“We’d just like to have answers to see if there is a tie to this,” Dwayne said.

In Johnson County, Meade says he knows of 12 other families whose kids had or have cancer. State health officials say they investigated the county’s cases and the number of diagnosed patients is not more than expected.

The Daily Journal reported in February that, in people younger than 20, the county has the 26th-highest incidence rate of cancers in the entire nation.

Dwayne says the state and the EPA should keep investigating.

“Just to find out and get some answers to why all these kids that live in this small little community are stricken with cancer,” Dwayne said.

Dwayne’s wife will head to the meeting tonight. If they can help it, the Meades don’t want anyone to suffer the way they have.

“It could have been anything that caused this but we just want to be sure it’s not the water here in the city, or any other source,” Dwayne said.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams released a statement prior to this meeting that reads in part:

Nothing we say can take away the hurt these families are feeling, but we hope we can offer reassurance to the community that they should not be afraid to drink the water or bathe their children.”

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