I have had a life changing experience and that experience was a meeting with Judy Padilla. Without going into the details of our 3 hour meeting, I can say that during the course of our discussion I've decided to make a documentary film about Rocky Flats Workers and possibly a book. It doesn't matter if I make the documentary or if someone else makes it, it has to be made and shown and I will work my ass off to get the ball rolling.
Obviously, I am not a documentary filmmaker.... but I wasn't a photographer until I was 30, so there you go.
Judy Padilla is a breast cancer survivor and former Rocky Flats Worker. She's been denied compensation and health care from the Department of Labor and NIOSH, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She was told she could reapply "if (she) gets another cancer, even a skin cancer." Judy Padilla worked with weapons grade plutonium at Rocky Flats and worked in room 771.
Judy also worked producing plutonium ingots with 4 men who have had breast cancer. And she's worked with people who have had pancreatic cancer and brain cancer and lung cancer and bladder cancer and kidney cancer and thyroid cancer, almost all of whom have their claims denied and told that their cancers did not come from working at Rocky Flats. This is just the tip of the fucking iceberg.
This is from latest denial Judy has received. They have lost 34 months of Judy's records from Rocky Flats. 34 months. And because they have "lost" her exposure records, NIOSH has "reconstructed" her exposure levels using a coworker's records. They don't say who the coworker is or where they worked.
However, in the same report that states that Judy did not get cancer from her job at Rocky Flats, NIOSH states that Judy was exposed to plutonium more than once at Rocky Flats...
"there were several incidents of plutonium contamination over the years due to the nature of Ms. Padilla's job."
"The DOE (US Department of Energy) dosimetry files recorded a low level skin contamination in 1989 and a wound contamination in 1987."
"A small inhalation of plutonium was recorded in 2000"
NIOSH has put the burden of proof on the Rocky Flats Workers and at her own expense Judy has been tested twice to see if she carries BRCA1 or BRCA2, the "breast cancer gene." She doesn't.
Judy showing her reconstructed breast. During one of the meetings when Judy was denied compensation, she took out her prosthetic breast and slammed it on the table and said, "This is what Rocky Flats did to me." This was before her breast reconstruction surgery.
I really want to thank Judy for letting me such a powerful and intimate photo... it will make a difference when people are forced to confront what's been done to the workers.
Ex-FBI agent charges feds with radioactive coverup at Rocky Flats