Sunday, June 24, 2012
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.