The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.
Hi my name is Scott. I’m 55 and I was in the service from January, 1985 to January, 1989. I was stationed at Fort Ord for 2 years. Then I was stationed at Fort Clayton, Panama for 2 years. I was also in Honduras and Ecuador.
Back in 2007, I didn’t know what was going on with my body. Could I have heat stroke? Having a stroke? Why were my arms shaking out of control? I dropped food on the floor and then my fork. My wife took me to the ER. They said they couldn’t find anything wrong with me and sent me home. That night, I was in the recliner and my legs were shaking. I couldn’t get them under control. Took 30 minutes just to get down the stairs on my butt. Still, the hospital didn’t find anything wrong.
They suggested I go to my regular doctor. Yeah, right! I don’t have a doctor. I’ve never been sick. But I went to my wife’s doctor. As soon as he saw me, he said “do you want an ambulance or will your wife take you?”
What? What’s wrong with me. He said I can tell by the way you walk something isn’t good. We took off to Springfield, Illinois where they did lots of test. The result – I have cancer. No one in my family has cancer. How can this be?
I had a plasmacytoma that ate through my C-5 and wrapped around my spinal cord. My family was in shock. They had to go through the back of my neck to remove what was left of my C-5 and scrape all they could of the cancer off my spinal cord. Then they went through the front of my neck afterwards to put two rods in the back of my neck and a cadaver bone and a plate in the front of my neck. I had to wear a neck brace for 6 weeks, so no work. I also had 20 radiation treatments after. Regardless, we could not kill this cancer.
In March, 2014, it turned into Multiple Myeloma. Time for a new doctor that specialized in this cancer. He decided my only chance was a stem cell transplant. I was able to use my own stem cells. So I did treatments to harvest my stem cells. They put me in an isolation room with very few visitors. I was there for three weeks.
My poor wife was a saint. She cared for me and I was sick out both ends. In 2015, my doctor did a biopsy on my back right side of my neck to see what a lump was. Well, it was Amyloidosis. The doctor shook his head. How could I have gotten all three of these cancers??
I talked to him about Fort Ord. He was an Army doctor before going into his father’s practice. He said it’s more likely I was exposed there then not, especially with all the water wells being closed and all the underground water contaminated. Also the Superfund going on out there really makes you think.
I applied for disability, just to get denied. I’m going to try again. Thanks for reading my message.
-Scott in Illinois
Note from the Editor: The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.
Response from the Editor: Scott, thank you for sharing your story with us. It is frustrating to hear of yet another person facing serious health issues from contamination.
As I read your story, I heard hints of my own father’s journey with various illnesses, their progression into different forms, and questions about the source of it. He died never knowing what happened to him. It took me 5 years after to learn of it myself. This mess is a sneaky silent killer. It gets into you and begins to affect you in small ways at first, and then snowballs from there into bigger and bigger issues.
Don’t let them have the satisfaction of denying you. Keep appealing. Bug the living hell out of them with every bit of paperwork and argument you can make. You may have already read our profile on Ord, but here is the link to all articles on Fort Ord, in case you missed them.
Maybe there might be a bit of info in them that you can put to use. Don’t give up on it. Keep fighting. – Gavin