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Cancer Cluster in Licking Valley Schools

Updated: Wednesday, March 6 2013, 08:41 AM EST
NEWARK — A cluster of cancer cases is causing concern in a Central Ohio school district.  Three students and a teacher are battling cancer at Licking Valley Schools. The community held a spaghetti fundraiser for a student Sunday. News that a Licking Valley Middle School student was diagnosed with Leukemia last week sparked some concern on social media early this week that the school’s drinking water might be the cause.

Superintendent Dave Hile said without a doubt children are safe in the schools and the well water is safe to drink.  Hile said the district is required to sample and monitor their well water at an independent lab and report results to the EPA. Hile said he is not sure whether the cluster of cancer is a coincidence or how to explain it. 

Hile is thankful for a supportive community and understands the impact cancer can have on a young life and family.  He was diagnosed at 16 with bone cancer.  “Community members will do whatever they can to help.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough because you really want to help those individuals but all you can do is pray for them and do what you can to lessen the burden,” said Hile.

Tina Bell, the mother of 8 year old Shawn Bell, one of the cancer victims told ABC 6 she thinks the cluster is just an “odd coincidence” and she does not think it is connected to the water supply. 

A grandmother of three children in the district Judy Schumaker, said it is hard to talk with the kids about what is happening.  “All of the sudden everybody is getting it…little kids, babies, they don’t know why and I don’t have answers for them.”

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Reporter: LuAnn Stoia
Web Producer: Kellie HannaCancer Cluster in Licking Valley Schools


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