Local family takes St. Lucie County glioblastoma concerns to Washington, D.C.

Posted: 10:42 PM, May 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-09 08:07:14Z

They won’t give up until they get answers.

A St. Lucie County family, who bravely came forward about their battle with a deadly form brain cancer, took their fight to Washington, D.C.

RELATED: More glioblastoma coverage

Mark Cunningham was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2016.

His wife, Stephanie, told WPTV about their experience with the disease in March, along with about a dozen other families.

After that story aired, more people came forward saying they, too, have experienced glioblastoma.

In the last five years, WPTV learned nearly 50 people who live in St. Lucie County, or work full time in the county, have been diagnosed with the disease.

Those concerns grabbed the attention of the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County which worked with the state to launch a review of the state’s cancer registry.

The health department ultimately said the number of local cases is expected for the area.

Local families refuse to accept that the local cases are normal.

The Cunninghams participated in an event called Head to the Hill, which brings together hundreds of families from across the country who have battled brain cancer, to advocate for the brain cancer community.

Stephanie told many brain cancer advocates about what’s happening in St. Lucie County.

“They all seem pretty intrigued by our story.”

She said multiple doctors and other brain tumor experts at the event also expressed their concerns about the number of glioblastoma cases in St. Lucie County.

“I know that it’s not normal. But, sometimes you just need that confirmation from the experts,” Cunningham said. “After I spoke to several specialists, they also said absolutely, that is not normal, you need to look into it.”

Head to the Hill advocates, including Stephanie and Mark, also got the opportunity to meet with members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, and staff from the offices of U.S Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S Sen. Marco Rubio, and U.S Rep.Ted Deutch.

It was a chance for them to talk about what’s happening here at home. She said Mast and staff from the other offices seemed surprised and supportive.

“I think they can push testing. Either air, soil, something needs to be tested, it’s not normal,” Cunningham said.

The Cunninghams head back home Wednesday, feeling motivated and hopeful.
“I just feel confident. I’m so glad that this happened. Once again, things happen for a reason,” Cunningham said.

Mast’s office also released the following statement about the meeting.

“Today Brian met with the National Brain Tumor Society and a group of constituents from Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, and Jupiter to discuss glioblastoma.  They discussed their shared support for medical research funding and the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, which Congressman Mast has already cosponsored to help accelerate and develop childhood cancer treatments.”

The Cunninghams are also hurrying back Wednesday for a fundraiser for Mark.

The Cunningham’s have accumulated substantial debt from treatments and travel costs associated with fighting Mark’s glioblastoma.

You can help support them by attending a fundraiser at Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce Wednesday. 

The fundraiser runs 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 2311 S. 35th St. in Fort Pierce.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to support the family.