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Mich. chief works through cancer 'to finish what he started'

Shelby Township Fire Chief Gene Shepherd, 56, was diagnosed with clear-cell sarcoma last year, plans to retire in Dec.

By FireRescue1 Staff

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A Mich. fire chief is retiring after three rounds of radiation and two of chemotherapy to fight cancer. But not before he finishes what he started.

Shelby Township Fire Chief Gene Shepherd, 56, was diagnosed with clear-cell sarcoma last year, according to Shelby-Utica Patch, and plans to retire in Dec.

“Three days before Christmas (2011) my oncologist said there was nothing he could do and that I should try alternative trial drugs,” Chief Shepherd said. “Now we’re into the trial stuff."

“In life in general: you start something and try to get through it. I don’t like leaving things open ended,” he said.

The chief endured a cadaver bone transplant after he found a lump in his arm in 2011. But the cancer returned on his ribs and spread to his back and hips a few months later.

His failing health hasn't stopped him from continuing to strengthen communication with the department's Board of Trustees, though.

“It helps being here and dealing with the public, and it gives me structure," Chief Shepherd said. "I hate to be sitting around the house thinking about it. That goes back to my desire to finish projects.”

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