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Study looking into high childhood cancer rates in Cherokee County

Posted at 6:31 PM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 20:20:17-05

TAHLEQUAH -- What's causing childhood cancer at an alarming rate in Cherokee County?

Some parents said they've documented 41 cases in the last five years.

State Representative Matthew Meredith, D-Tahlequah, said an initial study was just completed by the Oklahoma Department of Health that might give them an answer.

"I haven't lost a child, but I have a constant fear of losing a child because I'm always worried about is it in her? Is it going to come back? It's a hard journey that until you've been on it you have no idea," said Courtney Cochran.

Cochran’s 4-year-old daughter, Madilyn was diagnosed at age two with kidney cancer.

Her daughter recently finished treatment for a second cancer that spread to her lungs.

Cochran is among several Cherokee County families who are all going through a difficult time with who's battling cancer or died from it.

“I feel hopeful they're going to do something this time since we've got our state rep involved and people out doing tests and not just saying they're going to do tests, gives more hope that maybe more children won't be affected from it because they'll find what's causing it," said Cochran.

“With having children and seeing the children that go to school with my children-the little one you've seen a little while ago-she's in my daughter's class, so it hits home," said Rep. Meredith.

The Shankle family has this yellow bench here in Hulbert in memory of their daughter Amanda.

She died of Leukemia when she was 16.

Her mother Amy is continuing to fight for her.

“Amanda was the only one I knew forever and then all of a sudden there's so many kids that have it," said Shankle.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality are now conducting tests around the county.

“I don't want anybody to go through that, what we went through and if it's just an epidemic here in Cherokee County, I mean something needs to be done," said Shankle.

Lawmakers hope findings from the tests will be made public at a meeting next month.

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