Wesley Black, a retired military, is facing death after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017. The veteran says the cancer developed from exposure to burn pits in the Middle East.
Black, 35, served in Afghanistan and says they were exposed to fumes from military burn pits where soiled uniforms, metals, food wrappers, medical waste, and electronics were burnt using jet fuel.
He says the burn pits were located only 150 feet away from the military gate, and if you were on the front gate guard duty, you would be exposed to the chemicals for 8-12 hours a day.
A cancer ribbon | Source: Pexels
When in Afganistan between 2009 and 2010, Black developed chronic diarrhea and lost a lot of weight. He would consequently find blood in his stool, after which he was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Only a few years after the diagnosis, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He says he does not have much longer to live. Speaking to CNN, he says:
"I could be dead tomorrow. I could live another six months. It really all just depends on how my body responds to the oral chemotherapy."
Black showing his friends' memorial bracelets at his home | Source: YouTube/CNN
Black says his doctor believes that cancer developed due to exposure to the chemicals emitted from the burn pits during his deployment in Afghanistan.
Other veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who took a survey from The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America say they have suffered from symptoms related to chemical exposure.
He beat it, but it returned and has since spread to his lungs.
Black during the interview with CNN | Source: YouTube/CNN
Veterans Affairs say they are committed to chemical exposure and are working with Medicine, Engineers, federal partners, and congress to ensure they provide the best health care to veterans.
In the wake of his terminal illness, Black has started making plans for his funeral and even visited a funeral home and, to his wife's horror, picked out a pine coffin which he says is what he wants to be buried in. He says:
"My wife looked at me with this horrified look like 'don't you dare, don't you dare make me face your entire family with this pine box.'"
Potraits of Black holding his son hung on his wall | Source: YouTube/CNN
Cases of people dying from colon cancer have risen in recent years. Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with the illness in 2016 and passed on in 2020 at 43.
His death has shone a spotlight on the effect of colon cancer on men, with the American Cancer Society reporting a 30% higher rate in men than women. Black men also have a 20% chance of getting the illness.
Black with his wife and child | Source: YouTube/CNN
He beat it, but it returned and has since spread to his lungs. He is, however, receiving chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society advises that people go for regular screening, adding that it is also important to know one's family history.
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