By Jo Ciavaglia Staff writer, PhillyBurbs.com, updated 7/11/2011
Kim LeMoon hasn’t met Sam and Joan Ceccola, but she suspects they may have something in common.
LeMoon of northern New Jersey is part of a loose online community who has tested positive for the XMRV retrovirus, which has recently created a growing controversy within the medical research community.
Warminster resident Sam Ceccola, who has been diagnosed with either cancer, or a cancer reoccurrence, at least a dozen times since 1992, is also XMRV-positive.
His wife, Joan, has not been tested for XMRV.
But she has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder that shares many similarities with chronic fatigue syndrome, another disorder that some scientists believe is linked with XMRV.
So now LeMoon, who has chronic fatigue syndrome, is spearheading a grassroots effort to raise $550 to have Joan Ceccola tested. As of Friday, she said, $140 had been raised.
“This (test) could have real value, not only to Sam and Joan, but to everyone, as it could help further research into both cancer and (myalgic encephalopathy and chronic fatigue syndrome) and help us understand the connection between them,” she said.
The reason the results could be significant, she said, is because of the way retroviruses are transmitted, through body fluids such as blood, semen and breast milk.
Most people have never heard of XMRV or retroviruses. Only two other infectious human retroviruses have been identified with the most well known being HIV, the precursor to AIDS.
Retroviruses infect immune cells causing inflammatory diseases, neurological disease, immune deficiency and cancer. XMRV is part of a class of retroviruses known to cause cancers and other diseases in some mice.