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This week, the Environment Report is taking an in-depth look at the connections between cancer and the environment.When somebody gets cancer, one of the first questions is usually "why?"Does this kind of cancer run in my family?Was it something in the water, or in the air around me?Did I get exposed to something?What would you do, or where would you go to answer these questions? We'll explore how much we really know about the connections between cancer and the chemicals in our environment.We'll also meet both regular people and scientists trying to figure out if certain towns around Michigan are struggling with more cancer cases than other places because of current or past pollution.You'll hear about whether or not turning to the courts makes sense when it seems a company might to be blame for putting people at risk of cancer or other illnesses.Finally, we'll look at where we go from here. What do researchers know, and where are they looking next?

Your Story: A son fondly remembers times spent in the Michigan woods with his father

Jason with his father in 1981
Jason with his father in 1981

As part of the Environment Report's week-long series, Cancer and Environment: Searching for Answers, we'll be highlighting some powerful stories of hope and loss in the words of those touched by cancer in Michigan. You can read more Michigan cancer stories here.  How has cancer affected your life? Tell us your story.

We lost my father (pictured above with Jason in 1981) to kidney cancer in March of 2003. A Kentucky born avid outdoors-man, devoted father, husband, and employee, he worked nearly his entire 60 years to pass 18 months after retirement.

A poor diagnosis from his primary doctor, and his general stubbornness, did not help the matter. One week after his passing we found out we were pregnant with my daughter.

Most days I look at her and chuckle at the thought of my father with her. He would have loved her just as I do. He had bought property in Albion for us to hunt on. Father and son, in the woods doing what he enjoyed most. It took several years for me to return to that ground without him. My father would not have approved of that.

I miss him more and more nearly every day. With each milestone, challenge, and “I told you so”, that passes, I wish he were still here to council me, laugh at me, and laugh with me.

-Jason Ratliff

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Share your story here.

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