GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Neighbors on the Westside of Grand Rapids hung dozens of ribbons up and down Indiana Avenue Sunday, one for every person who’s died or is living with cancer. The ribbons are meant to raise awareness about a problem that the ‘Westside Cancer Crisis’ group said needs to be addressed. The group believes the reason so many of their neighbors have cancer is because landfills in the area have leaked chemicals.
The ribbons placed on doors and trees vary in color, representing different forms of the disease.
Janice Payne is an organizer for ‘Westside Cancer Crisis’. She had a close friend who she grew up with pass away very recently after being diagnosed with cancer a month ago.
The group said in the past 20 years, just on Indiana Avenue, there’s been 60 people who’ve died from cancer.
“A lot of people have had a lot of different cancers and have passed away from them. My mom had cancer and my dad had a brain aneurysm and my grandmother had thyroid," said Payne.
Old landfills in the area including the old Butterworth dump has come under scrutiny and ‘Westside Cancer Crisis’ believes chemicals leaking from them are to blame.
Kari Johnson also helped put the event together.
"We want answers. We want to find out what is going on that is creating this because there's something, it's just not genetics. We have birth defects on this street, we have tons of miscarriages," Johnson said.
Some of the affected residents have met with the Kent County Health Department and are trying to get more data on cancer trends.
‘Westside Cancer Crisis’ plans on speaking at the Grand Rapids City Commissioners meeting on Tuesday at 7:00 PM.