Faces of pain
The Daily Record News Group
scientists have an idea of what causes certain types of cancer or
other health problems, when individuals become ill their doctors
cannot always point to what caused that particular event.
while some Canon City area residents are convinced exposure to materials
from Cotter Corp. caused their health problems, others are equally
convinced their health problems are not related to anything the
others merely wonder, realizing they will never know for sure.
Lombardi of Florence is among those who wonders.
husband Gene, who had worked at the Cotter facility years earlier,
died of lung cancer in 1997.
Lombardi said her husband worked for three to five years running
a loader, moving dirt around on the mill property. The loader didn't
have a cab, so he was exposed to the elements.
said she thinks the exposure he got there could have given him the
cancer that showed up later. "I often felt that it was. I knew
that that stuff wasn't good for him."
his cancer was diagnosed, the doctors asked if he was a smoker,
she recalled. He had been, but had quit 15 years earlier.
died at age 66, "too young, I'll tell you that," Mrs.
Lombardi said. "We still miss him, that's for sure."
eight-month fight included 81 radiation treatments and five rounds
of chemotherapy. It was difficult, his widow said.
said they thought about suing, but never did. "I was just so
shook up when he passed away. I didn't want to go through the hassle."
and Virginia Hadley moved to Lincoln Park before son Jack was born
34 years ago.
he was diagnosed with abnormal bone growths, he was told radiation
exposure while his mother was pregnant had likely caused them. He
has lived in the Lincoln Park area his whole life, and he's convinced
his problems and those of others around him were caused by radiation
exposure. "I don't have any doubt in my mind," he said.
growths afflict his knees, wrists and shoulder, and his left leg
is bowed. He had surgeries on that leg when he was 8 years old and
again twice as an adolescent. "It wasn't much fun," he
the pain has gotten worse through the years. "When I was a
kid I had some pain, but nothing like it's been as I've gotten older,"
growths have pushed into his joints, especially affecting his knees.
"I've got pain everyday in my knees," he said. He eventually
may have to have his knees replaced, but his doctor says he's too
members of his family also have had health problems. His sister
also has a couple of bony growths. His mother has arthritis, as
does Hadley himself.
jury agreed with the Hadley family's belief that their problems
were related to exposure to hazardous materials from Cotter. The
family members are among those who won a $43.5 million settlement
in the Dodge et. al. v. Cotter lawsuit, but it's currently under
appeal and he hasn't gotten any money to help with his medical expenses.
said he has no idea what his future will hold, but it may be like
his present. "I live in pain every day," he said.
everyone agrees that Cotter Corp. has caused their health problems.
Royal Anderson got prostate cancer while working at Cotter, some
people might have assumed he had been exposed to a carcinogen on
his wife thinks the routine health tests employees got actually
saved his life that time. She said he had a family history of prostate
cancer - his father died from the disease - but the tests found
his cancer while it was still early enough to easily cure.
when he developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a combination
of emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, it likely happened because
he had been a three-pack-a-day smoker, Mrs. Anderson recalled.
was just a gradual process over the years," she said of his
disease. It started with coughing and progressed until he was having
pneumonia a few times a year. "You just can't get enough oxygen
into your lungs and it shuts down the other systems," Mrs.
Anderson said. He died of the disease in February 2000.
Anderson, who worked for Cotter for 23 years, retired in the late
1980s, and he and his wife moved to a cabin they had near the site
of the Iron Mountain fire and lived there for eight years before
moving back into Canon City.
did a lot of hunting and fishing and things. We enjoyed retirement,"
Anderson said she doesn't hold Cotter responsible for the health
problems her husband suffered.
she noted safety procedures at the company were strengthened through
the years. In the early days of the company, "they didn't realize
or know the things that could happen," she said.
learned as you went along, so you can't blame them for that."
Bullen of Artesia, N.M., hasn't lived in Canon City since 1965.
So she isn't sure what to think about the cancer that killed her
husband, Glenn, three decades later.
died of kidney cancer in 1995. He had been diagnosed with the cancer
in 1982 and had a kidney removed at that time to rid his body of
thought it was gone, but it came back," Mrs. Bullen said.
husband had worked in the Cotter chemical lab with Lynn Boughton,
and the Bullens kept in touch with the Boughtons, so she is aware
that Boughton's lymphoma was ruled as being a result of radiation
she said there's no way to know if her husband's cancer was caused
by exposure to radiation. They did wonder about it, though, as they
heard of health problems among others who had worked there. "I
think a lot of them had health problems afterward," she said.
couple lived in Lincoln Park during the time her husband worked
for Cotter. She said she hasn't had any health problems that she
thought were remotely connected with exposure to radiation.
Enderle grew up in Lincoln Park, living there 18 years. Four years
ago, at age 32, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus of the central
nervous system and brain lesions. Since that time she has been hospitalized
first rheumatologist told her that her lupus was not hereditary,
so he believed it was caused by environmental factors. "I know
I could never prove this, but deep in my heart I feel it's Cotter,"
was diagnosed with lupus when pregnant with her now 4-year-old daughter.
One doctor told her she would never live to see her daughter go
to school. Her son, at age 10, has had to learn how to set up an
intravenous line for her.
after going to the Mayo Clinic in August 2001, where doctors corrected
her medications to help control her disease, she feels her condition
doing a lot better now. I haven't been in the hospital since October,"
Enderle said. "I really do feel like I owe my life to them."
the soil from the Maywood, N.J., Superfund site is brought to Cotter,
she may reluctantly move from Canon City. Enderle said she doesn't
think she could willingly expose her children to the risks the dirt
live on the other side of town, but she feels the wind blows so
hard that waste could reach them.
really fighting to keep this material from coming here," the
member of Colorado Citizens Against ToxicWaste said.
Rosenstrauch's husband, Lloyd, died 12 years ago of prostate and
had worked at Cotter Corp. for nearly 24 years, retiring in 1982.
"He was a shift foreman and he worked pretty much all over
the place. I feel like he acquired it out there," his wife
he went to work for Cotter he worked briefly for Pinnacle, where
the ore Cotter processed was mined.
Rosenstrauch has begun to file for an Energy Employees Occupational
Illness Compensation Program payment, but after so many years she's
finding it hard to get ahold of all the records she needs to document
his cancer case. "They really don't care much, some of the
hospitals," she said.
Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program provides
benefits to people who qualify under the Radiation Exposure Compensation
Act, or their survivors.
husband's prostate cancer was first diagnosed in 1977. The lung
cancer was found later, and Mrs. Rosenstrauch now has been asked
to find medical records that will show which cancer came first,
said her feeling on seeking the payment is "I wouldn't want
anything if I'm not supposed to have it."
"If he got it out there, I'm entitled to it."
feel like he got it there," she said. "I'm searching for
answers yet, and I've got some more to look into."
man contacted for this article asked not to be included. He had
worked for Cotter for 18 years and said the company had been a good
employer, helping him buy his house and raise his family. He does
not believe that Cotter was responsible for any health problems