Family of Huntersville eye cancer victim celebrates new research funding

Family of Huntersville eye cancer victim celebrates new research funding

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — There’s help on the way to help identify what could be causing a cluster of rare eye cancer cases in Huntersville.

The state budget, passed by the Senate on Friday, contains $100,000 for research into the cause behind the higher-than-normal number of eye cancer cases.

Close to two dozen people have been diagnosed with the rare form of eye cancer in the Huntersville area.

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A family that lost its daughter to the disease has been a key factor in pushing for the funding.

"This has been an ongoing problem and now we have additional money to maybe, hopefully, find some type of cause of ocular melanoma,” Kenny Colbert said.

Colbert lost his daughter, Kenan Colbert Koll, at the age of 28 – exactly five years ago this week.

The rare eye cancer strikes only five people out of every million. Huntersville has seen more than 20 in a town with a population of about 56,000.

“We were very sad, obviously, the first part of the week on the five-year anniversary,” he said. “This is great news to hear today that we now have additional funds to continue the research efforts … and to prevent any other families in the Huntersville area from going through what we have been through.”

The Colberts donated their daughter’s tissue to researchers at Columbia University, in the hope of finding out if the scientists can find any links between the Huntersville cases and clusters in other parts of the country.