International Firefighter Cancer Foundation
  • November 26, 2015

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    • Happy Thanksgiving from the International Firefighter Cancer Foundation.

      Lung Cancer Awareness Month:

      Lung Cancer Awareness Month
      Sponsored by: Lung Cancer Alliance
      Health Library In-depth Report on Lung Cancer

      National Family Caregivers Month
      Sponsored by: National Family Caregivers Association

      Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
      Sponsored by: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
      Health Library Report on Pancreatic Cancer

      National Hospice Palliative Care Month
      Sponsored by: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

      Thursday Before Thanksgiving
      Great American Smokeout
      Sponsored by: American Cancer Society
      Health Library In-depth Report on Smoking

      Read more by visiting the Health & Wellness Section by clicking here.

      JACKSON, Tenn. -- Running toward burning buildings is a risk firefighters take every day, but the risk to their health could be greater than running into the flames.

      A recent study shows firefighters have higher rates of cancer than the rest of us — sobering statistics that are prompting change. Tennessee fire chiefs were in Jackson on Thursday, fighting cancer as hard as they fight fires.

      "It's an epidemic that's out there," Todd Wagoner said. "It touches the fire service in so many different ways."

      For Wagoner, that epidemic is cancer. He was diagnosed in 2011 after 26 years on the job.

      "I was shaving one day and just felt something with the razor," Wagoner said.

      From diagnosis to remission, Wagoner fought for his life while still fighting fires.

      "Eight weeks of chemo and 35 rounds of radiation," Wagoner said. "I worked all the way through it."

      Thursday, he took his fight to Jackson to share his story of beating cancer, hoping to protect others.

      "This is a good opportunity to inform the chiefs so they can take the training back to their departments and make all of our firefighters safer," Tennessee Fire Chief's Association President Chuck Walker said.

      Wagoner said a house fire is much different than it was 30 years ago and poses a much greater risk.

      "It just creates so much poisonous gas," Wagoner said. "It's all absorbing into our system."

      Although they wear gear to protect themselves, he said more steps need to be taken.

      "It's something to protect us, but we don't take care of it the way we need to, as far as washing it and making sure the contaminants are gone from it," Wagoner said.

      As the fight continues against cancer, Wagoner said his job isn't just about saving his community but also saving his brotherhood.

      "If something I say touches one person, to make them go to the doctor or to quit ignoring a lump they've got, it's worth everything I went through," Wagoner said.

      Some fire stations have spare sets of gear to swap out after a fire while others use specialized washing machines to get those toxins out.

      But more training like Thursday's is what Wagoner said will help those cancer rates plummet.

      Firefighter John F. McNamara, FDNY

      Let us not only remember those passed, but work to improve firefighter culture and save the living. Every individual has the power of communication to create change. Be part of the solution. Visit http://www.renew911health.org to learn how a few minutes from your day can save surviving 9/11 Responders.

      9/11 Statistics
      Below is information on the size and extent of the Health Crisis facing injured and ill 9/11 Responders and Survivors, including residents, student, area workers.

      • There are over 71,186 9/11 Responders and Survivors who are living in every State and from429 of 435 Congressional Districts.
      • There are over 8,017 participating in the National Program which provides medical treatment and monitoring for 9/11 Responders who live outside the New York Metropolitan Area, including responders to the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash site.
      • There are over 62,000 9/11 Responders receiving medical monitoring to safeguard against emerging injuries.
      • There are 8,475 injured 9/11 Survivors receiving medical treatment for their injuries from the World Trade Center Health Program.
      • 33,000 Responders and Survivors have at least one 9/11 condition and over two thirds have more than one condition and a large number of those suffer from multiple injuries and illnesses.
      • Over 22,000 9/11 Responders and Survivors sought treatment last year, for their 9/11 injury from the World Trade Center Health Program.
      • Over 2,000 active duty Fire Department personnel (Fire Fighters and EMS) and over 550 NYC Police Department personal have had to retire due to disabling 9/11 injuries.
      • More than 3,700 Responders and Survivors have been certified to have a 9/11 related cancer, of which over 1,100 are New York City Fire Fighters and EMS personnel.
      • Over 85 New York Police Department officers and over 110 Firefighters have reportedly died of their 9/11 injuries since 9/11 and more are expected in the coming years.
      • To date, the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund has received 19,721 eligibility claims. Of those claims submitted it has found 11,770 eligible, has denied eligibility on 942 claims
      • The VCF has made 5,636 compensation determinations for injured and ill responders and survivors or their surviving families totaling over $1.3 Billion.

      Shreveport, LA Safety Chief Sandy Davis (Retired) shares his cancer experience and his message why it is so important to wear your Personal Protective Equipement (P.P.E's).

      Video credit: John Phelan, Firefighter, Shreveport, LA

      Numerous studies have pointed to the correlation between firefighters and cancer, but are personnel listening?

      Firefighters, officers, researchers and other stakeholders say "No."

      That was just one of the findings included in a report compiled after a two-day meeting in January. Firefighter cancer was listed as a priority during Tampa 2 in 2014.

      “Provide firefighters with information on steps they can take to reduce the incidence of occupational cancer – including diet, physical conditioning, use and proper maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE), tobacco cessation programs, and other steps," the report states.

      Stakeholders also said it's imperative that a single unified message about occupational cancer be established.

      Among their recommendations include:

      • Require PPE during the overhaul process at fires and continue to research improvements for the level of protection provided by PPE.
      • Creation of a firefighter cancer registry to gather data prior to death since death certificates are not always a reliable source of data on the cause of death, employment history or contributing factors to the death.
      • Increase awareness of the importance in reducing cancer risks by management of diet, exercise, weight, sunscreen use, tobacco use and overall wellness.
      • Continue to work on presumptive cancer legislation to reduce the burden of proof for causation and allow for individual case evaluation.

      Read the entire article by clicking here.

      May 5th, 2015
      At the 2015 FDIC International show in Indianapolis, IN, Tempest Technology Corporation and the International Firefighter Cancer Foundation worked together to raise awareness on the cancer risks within the fire service with the giveaway of a custom airbrushed Power BlowerTM by Tempest.
      In 2013, the two organizations announced their partnership and teamwork in educating the fire service on the use of Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) post knockdown to help fight cancer among firefighters. This recent giveaway was only one of several ways Tempest and the IFCF chose to highlight the continued cause.
      “The work done by the IFCF is tremendously important to the long-term health of firefighters around the world. All of us at Tempest support this cause wholeheartedly, and we are proud to participate in raising the awareness of cancer within the firefighting community,” said Johan Gidstedt, President at Tempest.
      Battalion Chiefs Ted Henry and Damon Barkley from Kansas City, MO were the lucky recipients of the custom PPV fan. The Power Blower™ was Tempest’s 18” VSG model – a GFCI compatible variable speed electric unit which had been hand airbrushed with a number of Tempest and IFCF trademark icons. A couple of hundred FDIC attendees stopped by Tempest’s booth for their chance to win the ventilator.
      For more information on the giveaway, Tempest and the IFCF’s partnership, or any of Tempest Technology Corp.’s products and service, you can visit their website at www.tempest.us.com or reach them at 800.346.2143 or response@tempest.us.com.

      Colin M. Hough
      Marketing Specialist

      Firefighter Stephen "Shakey" Vanravenswaay was officially diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer Feb. 25, his wife's birthday.

      Vanravenswaay, 42, did not see it coming. He has no family history of cancer. He thought the pain in his stomach was nothing severe.

      "That's when they came out and said, 'Nope, you have pancreatic cancer that's spread to your liver,'" said Vanravenswaay, who's been with Orange County Fire Rescue for 19 years. "So here I am trying to fight it, hoping that I'll be able to fight it."

      A 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of 30,000 firefighters showed they are diagnosed with cancer at a rate 9 percent higher than the general population and are 14 percent more likely to die of cancer.  Read the entire article by clicking here.

      BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Firefighters expose themselves to the risk of cancer every day they are on the job, but experts did not realize the dangers they face until recently.

      "We're not indestructible," said Lafayette District Fire Chief Gerard Sonnier. "As a firefighter, I always thought that, 'I'm indestructible.'"

      For 32 years, Sonnier has been living his dream of being a firefighter. For decades, Sonnier ran into blazing buildings while everyone else ran out, fighting the flames, all while taking in the smoke, soot and toxins. Thirty years into his firefighting career, his profession caught up with him.

      "When we went to the doctor's office that day, he just dropped the bomb on me, 'Yeah, well it's cancer,' like it was no big deal, but it was like somebody punched me in the chest," Sonnier explained.

      A recently released study looked specifically at firefighters and the risk of cancer.  Read more here.

      May 4, 2015 - The Cleveland Clinic is reporting that they have begun offering a new blood test this is very accurate in early detection of prostate cancer, especially for the risk of the high-grade cancers that warrant aggressive treatment.  This new testing is called 4Kscore and used if the patient has an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) test results.  Read more here.

      What's New at Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation

      Kathy Crosby Bell, the mother of Michael Kennedy, a Boston Firefighter who lost his life at the Back Back fire in early 2014 testified before a City Council hearing on Firefighter Safety measures that includes installing Washing Machines in all 34 Engine Houses in Boston.  This would be a very important step in reducing carcinogens that are left in the turnout gear of firefighters after an incident and contributes to cancer in firefighters.  Read the entire article by clicking here.

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