CLEVELAND — In a perfect world, children would not get cancer. We do not live in a perfect world.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and we are highlighting a true, local medical mystery involving kids and cancer. Exactly 10 years ago, the last child was added to a pediatric cancer cluster case in and around Clyde, OH. The Ohio Department of Health called it the Eastern Sandusky County Childhood Cancer Cluster.
Now, a passion project from 5 On Your Side Investigator Jonathan Walsh wants your help to support families going through pediatric cancer.
“It just felt like a nightmare that I didn’t wake up from. It was awful,” said Tyler Covey from Clyde. She was just 12 years old when she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
“You want to do everything you can to protect them and you can’t,” said Tyler’s mom, Donna Hisey, from Willard, OH. “It’s a very emotional thing for me to have my kids have cancer,” she told us while wiping away tears.
Kids…plural. Two years after Tyler got cancer, her younger brother Tanner Hisey at age 10 was next. “It’s terrifying not knowing what’s going to happen,” said Tanner.
“What was the day like when Tanner was diagnosed?” we asked Tyler.
“The worst day of my life,” she told us.
“This isn’t happening again. And we can’t go through this again,” said Donna fighting through tears and remembering what it was like as a mom having two kids with cancer.
Unfortunately, it did happen again…and again…and again around the Clyde area from 1996-2010 — 35 children in all.
“Not a day goes by when you don’t think about it. Because when I think about us going through it, I also think about them,” said Tanner.
Walsh covered the cancer cluster while working for WTOL News 11 in Toledo. The strength of families like the Hiseys and little Alexa Brown, who passed away at 11-years-old, gave him inspiration for the cause.
He’s written a new book called Is My Child Next? The Alexa Brown Story. It details what the kids and their families endured. The fear, the worry and the courage they and their communities demonstrated.
During our interview, we handed over a copy of the book for the first time to the Hisey kids and their mom. They stared. They were silent. They were hit with memories.
“Getting the word out is the most important thing,” said Tanner.
“Hopefully people will read it and open their eyes about what’s really going on,” said Tyler.
“Your title is perfect,” said Donna. “Because everybody in town was thinking that. Is my child next?”
State and federal agencies did tests, but no cause was ever found.
We don’t want any more children to suffer. That’s why every penny of profit Walsh makes from the book is going to Alexa’s Butterflies of Hope, which helps families dealing with life-changing medical problems.
You can support the cause, too. Get your copy from publisher Braughler Books at https://www.braughlerbooks.com/Alexabrown/ or Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold.
We appreciate any help you can lend.