12 staff members from same Iowa school diagnosed with breast cancer in less than 10 years

A dozen teachers from an Iowa-area school say they have been diagnosed with breast cancer in less than a decade. (Source: KCRG)
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -A dozen teachers from the same small Eastern Iowa school have diagnosed with breast cancer in less than a decade. It’s leading to questions about whether there is a something in the building or environment that’s causing cancer.

The Hudson School District employs around 130 people in Black Hawk County.

“People just were kind of talking and realizing like gosh since 2009 there have been quite a number,” said Carol Menefee, a teacher at Hudson Elementary School.

Menefee has taught at Hudson for 30 years. In that time she’s battled cancer twice. First, breast cancer in 2009. Then, non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma in 2016.

“We were all kind of in that elementary building especially for many years,” explained Diane Anderson, a former teacher at Hudson.

Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago after working in the district for more than three decades.

“Most of us it’s not genetic so it’s coming from something else,” she said.

She and Menefee are both in remission, but some staff members are still going through treatment and one has passed away.

“This is not about us, it’s about helping other people and being proactive,” Anderson said.

It’s why the district plans to participate in a cancer cluster investigation through the University of Iowa.

“We wrap our arms around those people and we say what can we do for you? What can I do? What can I do? This is a case where they took me at my word and they said this is what you can do so we’re going to do it,” said Dr. Tony Voss, Superintendent for Hudson Schools.

While they know it’s going to be hard to prove, they want to know if there is a common denominator in the facilities that’s contributed to the cancer cases.

Staff say the school is like a family. They’ve supported each other through multiple cancer diagnosis, and they plan to support each other in finding answers.

“It means a lot, he’s been very helpful. He has communicated with us since even our meeting last week and been very very supportive,” Anderson said of Dr. Voss.

“It seems like a really simple thing to do but we really do want to, we want to know,” Voss added.

They know there is a chance an investigation may not be able to find a correlation, but they’re going to find out.