• Satellite Beach to dig wells to test groundwater for dangerous chemical

    By: Angela Jacobs

    Updated:

    SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. - A Brevard County cancer survivor believes she's proof that unexplained cancer cases now being discussed in her area started decades ago.

    City leaders said they now plan to test groundwater for a dangerous chemical.

    The city needs to dig two wells in this area near the post office for these tests.

    The city is working with residents who are volunteering their own yards to do this. It's all part of this community's quest for answers.

    Read: Doctor asks health department to investigate cancer diagnoses in Brevard County

    A packed house on Sunday listened to Dr. Julie Greenwalt, an oncologist, share her own cancer story and its possible link to other cases of former students at Satellite High School.

    Jennifer Jackson, a 1989 graduate, knew their stories too well.

    "They were telling us they were looking at our ZIP code," she said.

    At just 19, Jackson was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer after suffering for two years with bone pain doctors couldn't explain.

    "They were aware of an unusual amount of cancer cases in children diagnosed at that time, but of course, my family was focused on saving my life," she said.

    Channel 9 found in its archives from 27 years ago reports of 10 to 12 cases of cancer in areas close to Patrick Air Force Base.

    News stories and community meetings followed, but the investigation went nowhere.

    Jackson, who's now in remission, works as a wellness educator and tennis coach at Satellite High School. She said she's sure Greenwalt has uncovered a second wave of what she and others suffered.

    "To just think fellow alumni have passed on and possibly this is all part of something that could have been prevented," Jackson said. "Now that I know what I know, I need to be a part of this in some way."

    "I've talked to a lot of those parents who know in their heart of hearts that it was something and are just so grateful that I'm bringing awareness," Greenwalt said.

    Read: Doctor holds meeting to discuss string of cancer cases in Brevard County neighborhood

    In the next week, as the city begins water testing at two sites, Jackson embraces this search for answers.

    "If we can prevent more of these diagnoses happening, that is our end goal," she said.

    Many people believe the actual numbers of cases from decades ago are much higher than actually reported.

    A graduate from the early 1980s told Channel 9 she and her mother were diagnosed with rare cancers the past two years. She believes that shows just how far-reaching these cases span.

    Next Up: