ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A Central Florida man who lost his wife to cancer believes something in the water made her sick. That man still lives in Apopka with their 9-year-old son, and is now fighting to get officials to do more to provide concrete answers.
For months, Channel 9 anchor Jorge Estevez has been talking with the man, who feels as though he is getting the runaround. The man told Estevez about other people who have died or are fighting cancer in his immediate community.
Document: Cancer cluster report
After that, Estevez visited the neighborhood and found other people who also have questions. He discovered that in Apopka's Glen Park Circle, and its 50 homes cancer has touched at least 10 families. That's a big reason why some people want more testing done, with the hopes of finding any answers that can help explain the cancers in this one area.
It has been nine months since Eddie Poirier's wife died.
"This is her wedding ring and her diamond and I keep it right here on my chain," Poirier told Estevez, as he cried. "I keep it close to me. She was my wife she was my soul mate."
A rare form of breast cancer took her life.
"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her and that I don't say she was the best mother in the whole world," Poirier said.
Her cancer came after moving into the Apopka home at Park Glen Circle where their youngest son, now 9 years old, was born.
"You call this your dream house?" Estevez asked him
"It is our dream house," Poirier responded.
"Your dream home killed your wife?" Estevez asked.
"I believe that without a doubt," he said.
It's a strong accusation from a man who has made water quality his mission.
Document: Water inspection letter
"Why did your wife get it and you didn't, your son didn't?" Estevez asked. "You all live in the same house."
"My wife drank eight to 10
tenglasses a day," Poirier said.
"And you did not?"
"I didn't drink any of the water, never drank the water," he said.
Poirier suspects his home's proximity to pesticides from a nearby nursery combined with chemicals to treat the area's water supply could have possibly contributed to the cancer cases on his street.
Marcia Williams, is one of the cases. She told Estevez that she's moving.
"I love my house and I love my neighborhood, but I can't take a chance either," Williams explained.
Her neighbor, Jason Gronlund, wants answers, too.
"At the end of the day, somebody pay attention," Gronlund told Estevez.
The Department of Environmental Protection released a report, which concluded there was no maximum contaminant level in the water and determined it to be in compliance. Florida Department of Health officials in Orange County then sent Estevez a letter stating after their research they found no evidence of a cancer cluster.
"Do you feel you are blowing this out of proportion?" Estevez asked Poirier
"Absolutely not," he answered. "I need some answers and I am never, never ever going to stop asking questions."
Apopka Mayor Joseph Kilsheimer reiterated that the Health Department found "no indication of a cancer cluster" in his city.
But Poirier wants more testing. He set up a Facebook page, "Apopka Cancer Cases," with more than 2,000 people -- some of whom are sharing their cancer stories.
Document: Letter to Mayor Kilsheimer
Here's a full transcript of Kilsheimer's statement:
"Mr. Poirier is suffering unimaginable grief over the loss of his wife and everyone at the City of Apopka is deeply sorry for his loss. As Mayor of Apopka, I have met with Mr. Poirier on multiple occasions regarding his claims of an environmental link to Sheila's breast cancer. I personally arranged a face-to-face meeting with the Florida Department of Health to investigate his concerns and I personally called in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to check our protocols for delivering safe and sanitary drinking water. DOH found no indication of a cancer cluster in Apopka and DEP found that there have been no Maximum Contaminant Level violations. Unfortunately, Mr. Poirier's allegations about an environmental link to Sheila's breast cancer cannot be substantiated by any expert available to us."
Cox Media Group