‘A small miracle’: $150,000 in budget would go toward studying rare cancer cluster in NC town

North Carolina news

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (WJZY) – $150,000 could go toward getting answers for people in Huntersville. The money could go to study the cause of a rare cancer cluster in the area.

“I’ve never wanted anything to happen in politics so much!” exclaimed Huntersville Commissioner Stacy Phillips.

Phillips was beaming Tuesday after she found out $150,000 in the North Carolina House budget plan is earmarked for studying and abating ocular melanoma in Huntersville.

“To see that pop up in the budget was like a little miracle,” she said.

The odds of getting ocular melanoma are five in a million, but for some reason, two dozen people have it in Huntersville.

It’s personal for Phillips. Her grandfather was one of them.

“He is patient zero in the cancer cluster, and I went to high school with two of the girls that lost their lives,” Phillips said.

They need answers as to why it’s happening, and in order to get them, they need money for research.

“I think even the Town of Huntersville will admit this is out of their league to determine what to do with the money,” said Kenny Colbert, “so it needs to be turned over to a panel of experts.”

Colbert lost his daughter, Kenan, to the rare form of eye cancer when she was just 28. He’s made it his mission to see this thing through.

“Sooner or later we’re going to find the answer to this,” he said, “but it’s going to take experts, it’s going to take time, it’s going to take money.”

Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla says this money in the state budget is a great first step.

“If we can continuously investigate and narrow it down over time, maybe someone will find the cause and effect of it,” he said.

The budget still has to pass with the measure in it for Huntersville to get the funding. Phillips is encouraging citizens to reach out to their North Carolina General Assembly representatives to express the importance of the funding.

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