Study links firefighting to cancer

University of Cincinnati study: Firefighters are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop cancer than general public

By Kelley Dunn

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — For as long as he can remember, Butch Smith dreamed of being a firefighter. He grew up idolizing his grandfather who was with the Florida Division of Forestry. "The first thing I did when I was 18, I went into the fire department and asked for an application and went from there."

Butch spent 3 years working for the town of Palm Beach. He says, "The first save, the first rescue and first fire, I was elated it was special."

Butch wasn't planning on retiring, but his life changed in 2008. Butch Smith says, "I ended up fracturing my back in a fire and not really realizing it at the time but a few months later I found out I had cancer."

It was a devastating diagnosis: Multiple myeloma. Butch says, "It is non curable and unfortunately once you have it, you have to battle it the rest of your life." Sadly, Butch is not alone in his battle. When asked how many firefighters he knows that have cancer, Butch said, "Too many . I couldn't even name them."


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