In an interview with Dr. Nancy Snyderman that aired on NBC News’ Rock Center with Brian Williams in Feb. 2013, Mike Partain said “five years ago I was just an ordinary father of four, husband of 18 years. And one night, my then-wife gave me a hug and she felt a bump on my chest.” Mike received the shock of his life when his doctors told him over the phone that he had breast cancer. Although it certainly can happen, breast cancer in men is not common an the majority of breast cancer patients are women. For Mike, this created a desperation in him as he tried to figure out why or how this happened.
One day he saw a news report about a former Marine drill instructor, Jerry Ensminger, he was telling Congress about how his 9-year-old daughter, Janey, had died of leukemia. Jerry believed her death was a result of drinking water at Camp Lejeune that was contaminated with chemicals. Mike said “my knees buckled, I grabbed the back of the couch and I sat there. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is what happened.’” Soon after he learned that there was a long history of suspicion regarding the water at Camp Lejeune, and he had spent a lot of time there.
Mike said “the entire time my mother was pregnant with me, we were drinking high levels of tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and benzene in our water.” and they were there at Camp Lejeune. Its estimated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that between 500,000 and 1 million people had been exposed to the contaminated water from 1953 to 1987. It did not take much time before Mike found 83 other men who had lived or served at Camp Lejeune that have also been diagnosed with male breast cancer.
In 1980 there are lab reports that show that the United States Marine Corps had began testing tap water. The testing eventually showed one sample which contained 280 times the acceptable standard of Trichloroethylene (TCE), which is a chemical known to cause cancer. Officials state that the testing started in 1980 and it took them four years to find out exactly which wells were contaminated and shut them down. For many this was too little too late. In response to the connection between the chemicals in the water and cancer, Marine Corps officials have maintained that "reliable scientific evidence is lacking."
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