Toxic secrets: N.J. community faces high rates of cancer, rare illnesses

Pompton Lakes, EPA, new jersey

JAMES M. O’NEILL and SCOTT FALLON / NORTHJERSEY.COM – By the time Rick Orefice reached the surgeon’s table in August 2014, his spleen had grown to 15 times its normal size.

Two months earlier, the 23-year-old college student from Pompton Lakes began feeling unusually fatigued. Then came night sweats. And soon, a pain in his left abdomen grew so bad he quit his job waiting tables at TGI Fridays in Wayne.

A healthy spleen normally weighs 5 to 6 ounces. When surgeons at Hackensack University Medical Center removed Rick’s spleen, it weighed between 5 and 6 pounds.

“The surgeon took a photo of it, because he said it was the largest spleen he ever removed,” Rick said.

Rick was diagnosed shortly thereafter with a rare and aggressive form of cancer: hepatosplenic gamma-delta T-cell lymphoma, which had caused his spleen to swell so much …

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