Local firefighter shares his story battling cancer for “Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month”

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January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month. Research suggests that firefighters are at greater risk of certain types of cancers compared to the general population. Joining us earlier today, Dr. Robert Galamaga, the Medical Director for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Gilbert Aguirre, a Goodyear firefighter who is battling cancer.

“I think we know that our firefighters face a number of potential hazards on the job, whether it’s actively fighting a blaze where maybe there’s a chemical that is burning in the air and then they have to rely on their personal protective equipment or other job-related stressors that may make the body pre-disposed to that,” Galamaga said.

Galamaga added that things like burning debris, asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, etc. are dangerous to firefighters when they go into these homes.

As medical professionals, Galamaga said that they try to support firefighters in any way that they can and spread that awareness of those dangers that they are exposed to.

Taking a look at statistics, blood disorders are more common among firefighters.

In 2015, Aguirre was diagnosed with leukemia and he believes this was an occupational cancer where he received this illness through multiple exposures on the job.

Aguirre struggled to receive workers compensation for his cancer and he is still in litigation from that.

Over the last four to five years. Aguirre said that him along with colleagues have been diagnosed with cancer at a fairly young age.

“The Goodyear fire department has gone through great measures of trying to prevent some of those things and by implementing new protocols and also by the building of our new fire stations,” Aguirre said.

Dr. Robert Galamaga, Medical Director, Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Gilbert Aguirre, Goodyear Firefighter

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