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Struggling With An Overlooked Illness

by Civilian Exposure

The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.


I was born in the base hospital and raised in officer housing along with my two older sisters. My father was stationed there for another 2 years after my birth.

When I was 35 I started getting pain in my fingertips, I would break out in sweats and have bouts of fatigue that would almost make me fall asleep at a moments notice. Luckily I was diagnosed with Polycythemia before it gave me a stroke or heart attack.

Polycythemia is considered a blood cancer and it currently has no cure. It was at one time thought to be a precursor for leukemia. I take a low dose chemotherapy every day and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. There have been studies linking many of the chemicals found in the water to my condition, benzene being the major one.

My sister has acid reflux but to an extent that most would not realize. She has seen specialists which have not been able to help. Over 5 surgeries have been conducted and as a result she can no longer vomit which can become extremely dangerous. I cannot help but feel as though her condition may be linked to exposure as well.

I find it appalling that there is no easy way for us to even be considered for treatment and even more so that the list of conditions is so small. Thanks for allowing me to share my story.


Note About the Author: The author currently resides in Virginia. The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.


Editor’s Response: I feel for you and the family health struggles you have to endure. I also agree with you that the list of conditions is very small. Although certain health issues and chemical linkages have already been shown in some private studies or in other evidence that suggests those links, the VA waits upon the CDC to provide scientific evidence via their studies. Then, based on those studies, certain illnesses (albeit a small amount) have been identified, with even fewer being considered as “presumptive“.  Unfortunately, by the time we wait for everything to be scientifically studied by one government agency about another government agency, to then be ruled on by yet another government agency, everyone will be dead or the issue forgotten. Regardless, I remain hopeful and positive that we can work together with others to eventually influence and accelerate the process. Thank you for sharing your story. – GS

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