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Retired medic seeks answers to cancer questions

Posted March 29, 2011
Updated March 30, 2011

— As Congress mulls legislation to improve how suspected clusters of diseases are investigated and documented, a Garner couple just wants the military to provide answers to long-running cancer concerns at Camp Lejeune.

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill aimed at helping communities determine whether there's any link between unusually high rates of cancer in small areas and contaminants in the surrounding environment.

The Natural Resources Defense Council presented research to the committee identifying 42 sites nationwide where the group wants the government to investigate the potential effects of toxic chemicals on human health, including the small Chatham County town of Bynum and the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base.

The federal government estimates that 750,000 people may have been exposed to cancer-causing substances in Camp Lejeune’s water supply between the 1950s and 1980s. Although base officials acknowledge that chemicals from a former dry cleaner contaminated several drinking water wells on base, they aren't convinced the contamination caused health problems of veterans and their families.

Mike Seese was stationed at Camp Lejeune for years as a Navy medic. He retired in 2006, got married and moved to Garner, where he and his wife planned to start a family.

Seese said he went to a doctor to have his vasectomy reversed and learned he would never have children.

"I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. What they found was I also had cancer of the bladder," he said. "When you get surprised with something like this, with two cancers, it changes your life."

Donna Seese said she feels like she has to fight for her husband, noting "he just sort of shut down."

"We've been hit really hard with this, not only emotionally but in financial ways," she said.

The military has denied many of their medical claims, so the couple pays most bills for treatment themselves.

"It's the red tape you have to go through, the waits," Mike Seese said.

Retired medic seeks answers to cancer questions Retired medic seeks answers to cancer questions

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan are backing legislation to provide care for veterans and their family members who have experienced health problems because of Camp Lejeune's contaminated well water.

Donna Seese also has written to President Barack Obama to ask for his help.

"I'm going to reach out to everyone I can," she said.

Camp Lejeune spokesman Capt. Brian Block said the base continues to back scientific studies of the cancer cases.

"Those who believe that drinking water at Camp Lejeune caused their illness are part of our family, and we understand that they want answers. We want answers too," Block said in a statement.

Mike Seese's cancer is in remission, but he said he still wants the military to support him for his 26 years of service.

"You have to hold some accountability to the officials at Camp Lejeune," he said.

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  • mseese Mar 31, 8:52 a.m.

    Mark Lashley:

    We called producers last night to give permission for you to have all contact info. Since we've heard nothing, thought I'd try telling you this way. We have a published number in Garner, NC. Call us.
    Donna

  • malashley Mar 30, 5:45 p.m.

    Donna,

    I sent an email to the reporter that I hope he will forward to you. I look forward to hearing from Mike again.

    Mark

  • snforceconstruction Mar 30, 3:48 p.m.

    I served as a Corpsman stationed off the main base at Camp Johnson from 1980 to 1981.Does anyone know if the water was tested there?

  • mseese Mar 30, 3:12 p.m.

    To Mr. Lashley:

    In all of this, I have been very upset, to the point of tears. I, like you, cannot believe some of these comments. One person even eluded to the fact that it was a good thing we were unable to have children because he felt we had some predisposed genetic flaw. What a comment to make! WOW! I am outraged. I was unable to contact you by clicking on your e-mail, but Mike called and he would like to talk with you. I want to give my e-mail address or some way for you to contact us but, is there any way we can contact you because he'd like to catch up.

    Thanks so much.

    All My Best,
    Donna Seese

  • malashley Mar 30, 2:49 p.m.

    When I first saw this article I recognized the picture and my heart sank to find out this was my friend. I met Mike back in 1991 when we were both volunteers at Pender East EMS. I never knew him to complain or shirk his responsibilities. He took his service to the Navy and his community seriously. There is not one aspect of his life where I couldn't use the word "Honorable". Someone of Mike's intelligence and drive would have earned twice in the private sector as he did in the USN, the fact he stayed on at Naval Hosp. is testament to his dedication to his country and his fellow soldiers.

    Shame on those that spoke just for the reason to hear their own voice without a true understanding of the person or their situation. The VA is a convoluted mess. If a private insurer ran their business with the inefficiency of the VA, the NC atty. general would have shut them down.

    MY defense of Mike is based on my utmost respect. We should all wish him the best recovery possible.

  • mseese Mar 30, 2:19 p.m.

    Correction, I meant my husband made it to E8 - Senior Chief Corpsman.
    Donna S.

  • mseese Mar 30, 2:19 p.m.

    One More Thing:

    My husband, although retired and a cancer patient (in remission), he has applied for contracting jobs overseas just to help our family. I don't believe a lot of you understand, nor do I think you have the capacity to understand without knowing the entire story. WE LOVE TRICARE, THEY HAVE GONE BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY WHEN PAYING OUR MEDICAL CLAIMS. This claim is a result of the diagnosis of Prostate and Bladder Cancer shortly after his retirement from the Navy. He served honorably and made it to the rank of E-9 (Senior Chief), however, he is not someone who wanted to "brag" about his accomplishments. He was also the Honor Grad from the Naval Academy. As he said in the interview "I Love The Navy, Would Return in a heartbeat, and I BELIEVE IN WHAT THEY DO. In no way were we slamming fellow service members or the military. My husband would rather still be connected in some way to the military but we have not found that opportunity as of yet. I just do not believe

  • mseese Mar 30, 1:38 p.m.

    By the way - to "Avenger", thank you for wishing us "Good Luck" along with a few others, this was just the latest post. I expected some people to have something negative to say, but some people have gone WAY TOO FAR. How is this productive. This person that belives it's good I shouldn't have children does not even know me so how can he make that decision? That is cruelty at it's best.

    My dad served in the Marines as well - Semper Fi (also, while my husband was in the Navy, he served with the Marines)

  • Avenger Mar 30, 1:28 p.m.

    Unless you are retired you don't and can not get tricare! Cancer is expensive and no insurance pays it all. If you are paying 5 or 6 thousand dollars out of your own pocket and unable to work that makes it tough!

    They did agent orange the same way until many of my buddies died don't expect no difference here! Good luck to all you guys Semper Fi!!

  • mseese Mar 30, 12:19 p.m.

    DONNA SEESE ONCE AGAIN:

    BY THE WAY, THIS WAS NOT ABOUT THE VASECTOMY REVERSAL, THIS IS ABOUT OUR CLAIM WITH THE VA - NOTHING TO DO WITH TRICARE. UNFORTUNATELY, BECAUSE OF THE SENSITIVITY OF THE SUBJECT, WRAL DID THEIR BEST TO STATE IT WITHOUT REVEALING OTHER FACTS THAT MAY HAVE CHANGED YOUR MIND AND I WOULDN'T HAVE WOKEN UP THIS MORNING TO SEE SUCH NASTY COMMENTS. I CALLED THE STATION AND THEY ARE AWARE THAT I WAS CONCERNED THAT THIS COMMENT WAS MADE AND LOW AND BEHOLD, I UNFORTUNTATELY GOT CURIOUS AND READ THESE BLOGS. WHILE SOME OF THEM ARE VERY SUPPORTIVE (AND WE APPRECIATE THAT) MOST OF THEM ARE NASTY AND TRYING TO MAKE IT SEEM LIKE WE ARE IN SOME WAY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE SYSTEM. TRY E-MAILING "VETERANS FOR CHANGE", I DON'T THINK THEY WOULD APPRECIATE OR LIKE THESE COMMENTS. THEY HAVE BEEN WORKINT WITH US SINCE THE START.
    THANKS TO THOSE W/ THE FEW NICE COMMENTS. DONNA S.

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