“There are rare, rare cancers going on and there has got to be a reason for it,” Lesley Pacey said.
In 2004, Lesley Pacey’s daughter Sarah Pacey was diagnosed with Leukemia. Upon her diagnosis, Sarah was within 24-hours of organ failure. According to doctors, she had only been sick for two weeks. Her parents thought she had a common cold.
“Nothing can prepare you for those words- that your child has cancer. Immediately you go to the thought that I am going to lose my child,” Pacey said.
Sarah battled Leukemia for two years before overcoming the disease. She’s been in remission since 2006 and has not had any relapses or negative effects from her treatment. She’s now a healthy, happy teenager living in Point Clear, Alabama.
Even though Sarah is healthy, the battle isn’t over.
During the time her daughter, Sarah, was fighting the disease Lesley noticed that a lot of other children in their community were too.
“I noticed that there were several people–6 kids– including my daughter in the Fairhope, Daphne, Point Clear area who had leukemia in a very short amount of time,” Pacey said.
Pacey petitioned the Alabama State Health Department to look into the high number of cases. ADPH began two studies, but Pacey says both abruptly ended with no real answers.
“We decided that okay if State Health isn’t going to study this let’s study it on our own. And so the whole idea was to track cancer– especially looking at rare cancers and childhood cancers and study the local environment and try to partner with universities for research.”
Pacey is now working to raise money in order to conduct research on the environment in Baldwin County. She believes the water supply may be where the answers lie.
“We’re on a very shallow Aquifer system- but we’re growing at such a rate in Baldwin County that we are pulling out of that aquifer system at a very rapid rate and we are now drinking 40-50 year old water from whatever was applied to the fields, whatever was applied to the crops 40-50 years ago is what we’re drinking now,” Pacey said.
Lesley Pacey began her own non-profit called Eastern Shore Community Health Partners (ESCHP). The non-profit describes itself as, “A Mobile Bay initiative to research chronic disease clusters.”
You can check out the website here.
Pacey was also recently involved a documentary called “The Cells Of Baldwin County” which further explores the possibility of chronic disease clusters on the Eastern Shore.