The Scar

A cancer victim asks me for answers to the festering radioactive waste issue in North St. Louis County.


Last night before the screening of the First Secret City at Saint Louis University, a woman came up to me and showed me a long, deep scar on her on the bicep of her left arm. Even though her skin was black,  I could clearly see the severe bruising she has from her most recent radiation treatment.

She is 44 years old and has leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that I can’t pronounce.

The woman pulled out her I-phone and showed me how to spell the name of the disease that is ravaging her body. I had to borrow a pen and a piece of paper from her so I could jot down the spelling.

One of the causes of leiomyosarcoma is exposure to ionizing radiation. But her doctors won’t say whether that’s the cause of her life-threatening condition.

She has lived in Florissant, Mo. since she was three years old. Her family home is next to Coldwater Creek, which is known to be contaminated with atomic weapons waste dating back to World War II.

She told me that she didn’t sign up for this.

She didn’t volunteer to be a victim of the U.S. military’s secret nuclear weapons program. She asked me for answers.

That’s what I’m looking for, too.

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