2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 17 Dec 2002 14:42:07 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Mission pays off for cancer victim
Mission pays off for cancer victim

Karen Summers was living in Orange County, California, in 1994 when a
doctor told her that her sore throat, weight fluctuations and moodiness
were caused by thyroid cancer.

Without treatment, the doctor gave her six months to live. Summers had a
thyroidectomy and began five years of radiation treatment.

In a jolt from her West Texas past, Summers had a chance encounter while
getting treatment at a nationally known facility in Santa Monica, Calif.

There she met another woman who was in for the same treatment. The woman
was from Whiteface, Texas, on the Cochran-Hockley county line.

"I spoke with her, and she advised me of how many people in the
surrounding community had passed on or had cancer," Summers said.

Summers believed she actually was one of the cancer victims about whom
the woman was speaking. For two years in the mid-1980s, Summers lived in
Levelland in Hockley County west of Lubbock.

"I always felt like I had (cancer) when I moved, but I didn't know it,"
she said.

Now she knows, and she feels like a years-long crusade finally may be

Six years after Summers suspected a cancer cluster in the
Cochran-Hockley county area, the presence of a previously undetected
contaminant has been confirmed.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tested water wells in
several West Texas counties in April and found traces of perchlorate ?
listed by the federal government as a probable carcinogen and clinically
linked to thyroid disorders.

After meeting the Whiteface woman in Santa Monica, Summers took on a new
mission in life.

"I told her I would move back to Whiteface, and I would pursue the
question of how I got cancer myself," Summers said.

And so began a journey to find out why cancer seemed so prevalent in
rural communities west of Lubbock.

Summers said she encountered many obstacles along the way, and today,
perchlorate remains a complex and mysterious contaminant.

"I had already pursued every government agency that could do a test, and
everybody shut a door on me," she said. "After years of research, now
there are people out there lobbying for testing any new cluster where
somebody has a suspicion."

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