Mount Greenwood residents meet to discuss cancer concerns

MERRIONETTE PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Children are among the several people battling sometimes deadly forms of cancer in Chicago's close-knit Mount Greenwood neighborhood. All of them are living within just blocks of each other.

"I know that I would not want another family to go through what we've gone through," said Tricia Krause. She lost her 19-year-old daughter to cancer, and she and her son are also cancer survivors.

Krause was among the first to question whether water in suburban Crestwood might be to blame. Now she is trying to help residents of the Mount Greenwood neighborhood on the Far South Side to determine if there is an environmental cause for numerous cases of pediatric cancer.

"I think when you have four children living within two blocks and all of those four children went to the same school, that's not a coincidence," Krause said.

Families met Wednesday night in nearby Merrionette Park to discuss their cancer concerns in an informational setting.

"We have more than a couple of concerns about cancer in the neighborhood and what might be the cause," Krause said at the meeting.

There have been several studies of the area by state and city officials to determine whether there is an unusually high incidence of cancer there, but they've been inconclusive. The University of Chicago is examining cancer rates in and around Mount Greenwood.

"We're not pointing any fingers. We haven't done enough extensive testing to see if this is the issue, but it's definitely something that should be addressed," said Janessa Cannon, resident.

A review in 2017 by the Illinois Department of Public Health found no evidence of a cancer cluster among children on the Far South Side, but did find elevated rates of breast, lung, and prostate cancer compared to Cook County as a whole.

"There's always that thought, you know, what could be in the ground? What could be in the water? It's a real fear," said Ald. Matt O'Shea, 19th Ward.

"There's nothing that's been found to date that indicates there's an environmental cause of increased incidence of pediatric cancer," said Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-18th District.

But at the meeting some were skeptical, including loved ones of a child who died of cancer. They walked out of the meeting in protest.

Some said more study is needed.

"We have a lot of anecdotal evidence, but we have no hard evidence that there's anything resembling a cancer cluster," Sen. Cunningham said.

The University of Chicago study includes several hundred families, but preliminary results are not expected for at least a year.
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