Kevin P. Kane was a remarkable man who lost his life due to an aggressive cancer, as a direct result of chemicals released by the Nyanza Chemical Dye Company in Ashland, Ma. in 1998. He died within a year of his diagnosis and spent the last months of his life as an advocate in search of the truth. His courage and persistence lead to the The Ashland Nyanza Health Study (completed in 2006.) The study confirmed that the cluster of rare cancers in Ashland's youth were a result of their proximity to the Nyanza Chemical plant.
David was born and raised in Ashland. He was your typical boy growing up and loved everything to do with baseball. He was an extremely talented pitcher for the Ashland High School Baseball team. His teammates and coaches became like his family.
He was always playing pranks and known for always making you laugh. He had such a determination and "don't quit" attitude that was contagious.
David was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer called Ewings Sarcoma found in his leg two weeks after his graduation from AHS in 1990. While in high school, David would walk on a trail that traveled from the high school through Nyanza to get to Stone Park for practice.
His courageous 2 year fight against cancer ended on January 25th, 1993. His spirit and life lives on through his family, friends, and everyone that knew how special he was.
"I was born and raised in Ashland in a time before we knew what the impact Nyanza would have on our lives ! I have several family members and close friends who have endured and overcome several types of cancer .... and never thought I would say "They are the lucky ones" because they survived! The Ugly Truth is I have been to one too many funerals of my friends who were not so lucky, who battled ungodly aggressive and in the end fatal cancers before reaching their 50s! As I write this I have just lost another high school friend less than a month ago to a rare aggressive cancer and another childhood friend who is fighting for her life with yet another form of a rare and aggressive cancer! My oldest son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren live in Ashland now and my biggest fear is that another generation will have to endure what our generation has had to. So I implore you to take action, to use your voice and to take back our town !! So that it's once again safe to raise our children and grandchildren in what is otherwise a wonderful town!"
"I was not directly impacted by cancer, but my Dad lost his life due to cancer and it something I hope they find a cure to soon. I have lost many people to cancer but the loss of my friends and classmates hit me hard and I am still angry about Nyanza and how it has effected so many in Ashland. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been touched by someone who has been affected by cancer and Nyanza."
"I've always had an uneasy relationship with my Ashland past. My mother grew up downtown. I was born with chromosome abnormalities. From 1972 until I graduated AHS in 1978, my friends and I played at the chemical waste site. We knew the area was off limits, but we were bulletproof then, as kids are. We had a fort there, made out of huge, balanced granite slabs. Picture pepto bismol pink colored water, and noxious smelling bubbles that rose the size of dinner plates from the manmade clay containment craters before bursting with a fizzing sound, releasing an acrid stench like nothing I've encountered before or since. Nothing green grew there.
We used to take bets on the color of the creek water as we hiked into the site. Would it be green today, or blue? We befriended a frog there, which came close enough to us to touch, but one day it disappeared never to be touched again, around the time the creek ran bright orange.
We were aspiring film makers back then, and wanted to shoot an apocalyptic film on location there, and call it, "A New Dawn." The irony... Too bad we couldn't afford film and equipment, and we wrote but never made our movie, because footage would have stopped the hearts of the most indifferent souls.
Fast forward forty plus years. I grew up to have a dual career as a Medical Librarian and yes, a film maker. But, lucky me, I also live with a rare disease called mastocytosis, or abnormal mast cells. Mast cells are part of your immune system. Mine are out of control, similar to cancer. My skin, gut and eyes burn painfully, and there is no relief to be had by any medication. I am "allergic" to almost everything. Nearly one quarter of mastocytosis patients develop fullblown blood cancers.
Dichlorobenzene and trichlorobenzene, both benzene compounds, are only two of the toxic chemicals identified in the Nyanza study. Benzenes are actually used to induce abnormal mast cell reactions in animals. There is scientific evidence that they play a role in the development of mastocytosis in humans.
Did Nyanza cause my disease? I'll let the evidence speak for itself. But I'll say this. No one should have to live with the sensation of a thousand fire ants stinging their face, eyes, and gut nonstop every day because as a kid, they had dreams of glory. And my Faith instilled in me by the wonderful people at the Federated Church and St. Cecelia's won't allow me to keep silent when others' health and wellbeing are at stake."
-Donna Beales, MLIS President Donna L. Beales Productions Video/ Graphic Arts/ Multimedia
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