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Sunday, June 24, 2012

My brothers



I talked to the daughter of a former firefighter friend of mine. We worked on the same crew for quite a few years. He’s retired and living in Florida now. My lovely wife and I visited him and his wife a number of times this past winter.

He’s trying to sell his house in New Hampshire -before it’s foreclosed on. I was expecting him to come north to clean it out. My buddy isn’t coming up after all. Instead, he’ll be getting treated for lung cancer. His daughter just called to ask me to pick up a few things from the house, mostly the family photo albums.

This is his second bout with the disease. They will zap it with radiation this time. There isn’t enough lung left to do surgery again.

There aren’t a lot of my brother firefighters left. Cancer has claimed many of them. Lung cancer more than a few. Lung damage is the reason my career came to an end. No cancer, thank God. It’s possible I have a genetic quirk that makes me more resistant. Maybe it’s the non traditional treatments I’ve tried over the years. Who knows? Luck of the draw?

Another common issue with my brothers is joint and back problems. Hip and knee replacements are common as is chronic back pain. Most of those guys go under the knife sooner or later. Once again, I’ve been lucky. Everything keeps on working well enough.

When I first went out on disability I had a lot of nightmares. One night I had what seemed like a fairly normal firehouse dream. In my dream I went on a couple small runs with the engine company. There was the normal day to day activities -nothing major. When I woke up, however, I had a cold shiver. Every firefighter in my dream was someone who I once worked with and had since passed away. I was on a crew of the dead.

Picking up the photo albums for my buddy is the least I could do. It should ease his mind a bit and that will help with the healing. I hope his treatment goes well and he has a few more years before he joins the night crew.

-Sixbears



12 comments:

  1. Sixbears

    I had no idea (probably because of being new to your blog) that you were a member of the brotherhood. Im an active FF in Houston. My surgery has been postponed for 3 years till after retirement. In the meantime Ill just keep pulling the fluid out. Sorry to hear about your friend. Hopefully the new corp of FF wearing SCBAs will slow the rate of lung Cancer. Best of luck and I ordered Possum Living tonight, thanks for the lead.

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    1. Hellow Brother!

      Yeah, the job takes its toll. Still, hard to give up saving lives for a living.

      Some of the PL stuff is outdated, but I loved the attitude. It was the first book I read that showed people living outside the mainstream and having a good time.

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  2. Wow, I knew it was a dangerous profession, but not that bad. Thanks for informing us of a problem that all firefighters may have.

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    1. There's a reason FF have early retirements.

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  3. Sad to hear of another friend's challenges but he's fortunate to have you in his life.

    I'm convinced our generation's health issues are a direct result of all the toxicity we were exposed to before the world became aware of how much we'd been poisoning ourselves.

    Sadly, we're still doing it.

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    1. Thanks Treesong.

      All that toxic stuff is even more toxic when on fire. After one fire I had a nosebleed that never really stopped for 15 years. Crazy when I look back on it.

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  4. I saw enough of fire fighting in the Navy to know I didn't want anything to do with it! So I took to grinding fiberglass instead : ) Huffed a lot of chemicals in my time (not on purpose) doing petroleum inspection, building boats, painting stuff... Anyhoo, I can see why fire fighters suffer from cancer. The effects of one fire are probably equal to several dozen cartons of cigarettes...

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  5. I worked with a lot of former military guys who got into it because of their service fire fighting experiences.

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  6. My dad is a volunteer firefighter who started back in the 1970s, and I suspect the burning stuff he was exposed over the years has a lot to do with his Parkinson's.

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    1. Sorry to hear he is suffering. I would not doubt at all that there is a connection.

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  7. Sixbears,

    Saying prayers for your friend and his family. There is nothing stronger than the band of brothers. You're a good friend!

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    Replies
    1. Nothing like "trial by fire" to form bonds.

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