Hibbing, Minnesota is famous for two things:
1. It is the childhood home of Bob Dylan (known there as Bobby Zimmerman, when he was in high school with my mom and Uncles)
2. It is the home of the world's largest open pit mine.
Half of my family (Mom's half) was there because of the mine. My great grandfather is immortalized in a local museum, a full size photograph of him, sitting and smiling on a piece of huge equipment, breaking ground there. The mine briefly turned that tiny little town into the place to be way back then. My great grandmother, a farmer's daughter, married him and raised her children there. My grandmother met my grandfather, who drove the train that transported the taconite that was mined from there. My family survived because of that mine. All the families there were tied into it for one reason or another.
I know a couple of months back I told you about my mom's cousin, Steven, who succumbed to a brain tumor.
I have another second cousin, by marriage, whose father worked in the mine, that is suffering from a kind of mouth and throat cancer, and lost his lower jaw. He is not a smoker.
My grandmother's best friend has a daughter that also had a brain tumor. She survived, after surgery and chemo.
My mother, about 4 years ago, had her uterus removed and a complete hysterectomy due to cancerous cells.
Now comes word that my uncle, my mom's younger brother, just had surgery that removed a 21 pound tumor that ate his kidney. They also removed several lymph nodes that tested positive for cancer cells. It's in his blood. In about two weeks, when he heals from this surgery, he will begin chemotherapy. My mother is currently down there, in California, helping him recuperate.
Hibbing is not a large town, I think it was up to about 30,000 people last time I was there, which was about 8 years ago. The families that I know there have all been dealing with various sorts of cancers, and all of the victims are 45-60 in age.
I don't think its coincidence.
I'm not sure whether it was chemicals leaked out into the environment, or the water, or brought home on their daddy's clothes every night when they came home covered in dust, but I believe something that was in that mine that is making them all sick.
I hope my uncle is as lucky as my mom was in her diagnosis. He's one of the funniest, kindest men I know, and has raised three awesome kids to young adulthood. I love him dearly, but if anyone can pull through though, its him - he's a fighter. He's got a spirituality grounding him that will pull him through.
I wonder how many more families there are dealing with this B.S.