FLOWER MOUND — As state health officials finish an updated study on the possibility of a "cancer cluster" in Flower Mound, more families — and even some local pediatricians — are anxiously awaiting the new findings.
Leukemia patient Catherine Bell, 22, said she had to tell her story after seeing a recent News 8 report focusing on the health concern.
"When I was diagnosed last summer, the doctor said it was so rare," she said. "I was 20... 30... 40 years younger than other people in the hospital."
Bell endured hours of agonizing chemotherapy. She is now in remission, but still faces a daily intake of too many pills and drugs to count.
She quickly realized after her diagnosis she wasn't the only young person in the area battling cancer.
"There is the one I met in the hospital, the one down the street, the three others I went to high school with, the one that passed away from high school with," she told News 8.
Local doctors are more aware as well.
Dr. Nikki Wacker says her practice called "18 & Under" hasn't seen anything drastic but they are monitoring a handful of cancer cases with their patients.
She said after an analysis was recently published by a University of Texas researcher claiming there could be a problem in the area, she and other colleagues can't take any chances.
"We might draw some blood work where we might not have before, [and do] extra screening," she said.
The analysis, conducted by Professor Rachael Rawlins, raised questions about how the state conducted a cancer study in the area several years ago.
At the time, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services determined there weren't more cases of leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, or brain cancer in Flower Mound than in other parts of Texas.
Rawlins' analysis of the same data found there actually was a strong indication of a higher cancer rate among young people since the late 1990s.
It also pointed out how cancer-causing compounds like benzene — which can be used during fracking — should be of concern.
A number of families told News 8 as far back as 2010 they feared increased fracking operations might be one source of the problem. No firm link has ever been established.
Town officials have repeatedly pointed out the city has some of the most rigorous drilling restrictions in the state.
Flower Mound also has air monitoring, which officials have said indicates nothing abnormal of late.
The updated study from the state is expected to be released in June.