Maricopa woman says veteran husband developed cancer from toxic burn pits: 'It's not fair'

One year ago, President Biden signed the PACT Act, giving extended benefits to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. Aug. 9 is the final day for veterans to file a claim or submit an intent to file for retroactive benefits.

As the deadline looms for veterans to claim these benefits, one military wife in Maricopa is sharing her story. She says her husband developed brain cancer from being exposed to these toxins overseas.

Alexa Tanner's husband, Michael, has a type of brain tumor known as glioblastoma and is receiving hospice care in their home.

"I said, ‘You’re going to miss out on so much. It’s not fair. Why you? You went and fought for our country, and then you come back, and your chosen profession is a nurse - where you go and you stay for hours until everyone has exactly what they need,’" said Tanner.

Tanner, who is pregnant with the couple's first child, said she is almost positive that Michael's tumors came from his time in the Marine Corps from 2009 to 2014.

"When you get out of the military, they do an assessment, a physical assessment – I think a mental assessment as well – and they noticed a fluid-filled cyst on his pineal gland," said Tanner, whose child is due in February 2024. "When we discovered he had cancer in 2021, it was almost in the exact same spot, so we don’t know. Maybe it was benign at the time, but over the course of eight years, turned into cancer."


Deadline looms large for backdated PACT Act benefits: Here's what you should know

The clock is ticking for veterans affected by burn pits who want to file for backdated benefits from the government. Here's what you should know about the PACT Act.

The couple had previously discussed the possibilities of burn pits having an adverse impact on Michael's health.

"His friend was saying that people have to stand guard, so even though it’s not actively burning, that smoke is in the air all day," said Tanner. "He said when you were standing guard around it, people would be throwing up, they would be fainting, they would be getting headaches, dizziness."

The Tanners qualified for full disability coverage through the VA, but Michael's Marine friends may now qualify for assistance under the PACT Act.

"I’ll always have a part of him, forever," said Tanner.

File for VA disability compensation

Register an intent to file a VA claim

Support the family's GoFundMe: