Monday, May 22, 2017 by Isabelle Z.
As the lawsuits filed by cancer patients against Monsanto continue to pile up, more personal stories are coming to light of people who have suffered from exposure to the company’s deadly herbicide.
Christine Sheppard knew something was wrong when her leg swelled up dramatically. An ultrasound led to a diagnosis of stage IV large-cell lymphoma. Things went from bad to worse once she started undergoing chemotherapy, which has caused her mobility to suffer. She says she doesn’t always know where her feet are and has to look at them to help place them. Eventually, she says, she will end up immobilized because her symptoms are expected to get worse.
Sheppard doesn’t get out much these days. She has to avoid crowds and planes because her immune system is so weak that even minor sicknesses can last a long time. She had to sell her Hawaiian coffee farm and move to California for better access to cancer treatment, and she depleted her 401k to cover her medical bills.
She says she longs for her life before getting cancer. Now, she spends her days worrying how much time she has left. She says that if she doesn’t take painkillers, she will end up “hopping and screaming” in pain.
At first, she didn’t know what could have caused the illness. After dealing with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for 12 years, she heard that glyphosate had been labeled “probably carcinogenic to humans” and that’s when it clicked: Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Roundup, the herbicide she sprayed on her coffee farm for five years in Hawaii. She says she was “incensed” when she learned about the connection.
“They didn’t take away my life, thank goodness, but they took away our dreams, our savings,” she lamented.
Now, Sheppard is one of hundreds of cancer patients who are suing Roundup maker Monsanto for failing to warn consumers of the cancer risks associated with the product, encouraged by a report by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on cancer that said, “For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”
Making matters worse, Roundup contains ingredients like animal fats that make the glyphosate even more carcinogenic.
Of course, Monsanto denies that its product is at fault, which takes quite a lot of chutzpah in the face of countless people who are now facing death after exposure to their products.
Attorney Timothy Litzenburg, whose law firm is representing around 500 of these victims, told CNN that he expects to see thousands of these cases by the end of the year given the widespread use of Roundup. He added that court documents show an “inappropriate close relationship” between a former EPA official and Monsanto.
Another cancer patient, the late former EPA scientist Marion Copley, was also concerned about the close ties between the EPA and Monsanto. She penned a letter to fellow EPA scientist Jess Rowland as she was dying of cancer in which she begged him to protect the public from the dangers of glyphosate instead of continuing to help Monsanto cover it up.
Another unsealed court document showed that Monsanto execs conspired to ghostwrite reports by the EPA on glyphosate and stop another agency’s investigation into the toxicity of glyphosate. The unethical firm routinely bribes, threatens and bullies scientists and others into downplaying and even outright denying its well-documented dangers.
While there are thousands of people who can tell their own personal stories caused by the devastation of Roundup, Monsanto simply doesn’t care. They’ll pay their way out of this, just like they always have.