Ray, I completely understand the uphill battle/frustration of your efforts. The only reason the VA classified me as 100 percent disabled was that I could put Vietnam, Agent Orange, stem cell transplant and leukemia in the same sentence. Until I could do that there was no consideration for my situation. I believe that I was exposed to more carcinogens from the "burn pits" than from agent orange. The only thing working for me was the blanket statement that covered everyone in country in Vietnam as having the possibility of exposure to agent orange. I don't have much in the way of advice for you and I apologize. It is very well accepted that benzene can cause MDS/leukemia, it gets "sticky" for the VA and the military personnel as to whether, or not, the exposure in the military was the cause. I have always understood it from both sides of the discussion. The situation is just not definitive enough to make the hard decision.
The explanation from Wikipedia illustrates the problem well from both sides of the discussion. It is very difficult to pin the benzene exposure to one experience because it is so prevalent in our entire lifetime.
A bottle of benzene. The warnings show benzene is a toxic and flammable liquid.
Benzene increases the risk of cancer and other illnesses, and is also a notorious cause of bone marrow failure. Substantial quantities of epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory data link benzene to aplastic anemia, acute leukemia, and bone marrow abnormalities. The specific hematologic malignancies that benzene is associated with include: acute myeloid leukemia (AML), aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
The American Petroleum Institute (API) stated in 1948 that "it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero". There is no safe exposure level; even tiny amounts can cause harm. The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) classifies benzene as a human carcinogen. Long-term exposure to excessive levels of benzene in the air causes leukemia, a potentially fatal cancer of the blood-forming organs. In particular, acute myeloid leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (AML & ANLL) is not disputed to be caused by benzene. IARC rated benzene as "known to be carcinogenic to humans" (Group 1).
Because benzene is ubiquitous in gasoline and hydrocarbon fuels are in use everywhere, human exposure to benzene is a global health problem. Benzene targets liver, kidney, lung, heart and the brain and can cause DNA strand breaks, chromosomal damage, etc. Benzene causes cancer in animals including humans. Benzene has been shown to cause cancer in both sexes of multiple species of laboratory animals exposed via various routes.
Exposure to benzene
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (2007), benzene is both an anthropogenically produced and naturally occurring chemical from processes that include: volcanic eruptions, wild fires, synthesis of chemicals such as phenol, production of synthetic fibers, and fabrication of rubbers, lubricants, pesticides, medications, and dyes. The major sources of benzene exposure are tobacco smoke, automobile service stations, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions; however, ingestion and dermal absorption of benzene can also occur through contact with contaminated water. Benzene is hepatically metabolized and excreted in the urine. Measurement of air and water levels of benzene is accomplished through collection via activated charcoal tubes, which are then analyzed with a gas chromatograph. The measurement of benzene in humans can be accomplished via urine, blood, and breath tests; however, all of these have their limitations because benzene is rapidly metabolized in the human body.
age 70, dx RAEB-2 on 11-26-2013 w/11% blasts. 8 cycles Vidaza 3w/Revlimid. SCT 8/15/2014, relapsed@Day+210 (AML). Now(SCT-Day+1005). Prepping w/ 10 days Dacogen for DLI on 6/9/2017.