Testing to begin at Colonia HS after man discovers possible evidence of cancer cluster
Is it a cancer cluster or just a coincidence? That is the question residents are hoping to answer in the Colonia section of Woodbridge.
Al Lupiano was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor in 1999. But even more rare was the fact that his wife and sister later found out that they had similar medical conditions. They were diagnosed on the same day last summer.
“Just simple math in my head – having a husband and wife with this tumor, which aren’t related and then to have my sister with a blastoma, I knew something was wrong,” Lupiano says.
While Lupiano’s wife Michele is still undergoing treatment, his sister Angela died in February, just months after her diagnosis. Angela has four daughters who have or will go to Colonia High School.
“I made a promise to my sister while she was dying that if something did this to us, I will find out what did it,” Lupiano says. “At that time, I only had 15 people on the list, and I decided after grieving for a few weeks…it was time now to go public and ask people to help me.”
Lupiano’s quest for information took him to Facebook last month, and that list of people who went to or worked at Colonia High School - and have a primary brain tumor - is now closing in on 100 cases.
“Colonia is not a mega high school. That’s what makes the numbers staggering,” says Lupiano.
Woodbridge Mayor John McCormick lives just a few blocks from the high school. He says that the evidence that Lupiano has collected is a cause for concern, which is why the city will pay for “emergency testing” at the school this weekend.
“As a scientist, I want to find answers. As a concerned uncle and community member, I pray we find nothing,” Lupiano says. “I’m optimistic that when all is said and done, we will have a definitive link of what caused this to happen to all of us and I’m hopeful that we can take that knowledge and prevent it from ever happening again.”
Lupiano says that most of the people on his list were at the high school prior to 1997. This is when a low-level radioactive rock was found and removed from the school grounds.
The ground and air testing will begin on Saturday. It will take about two weeks.