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What's New at IAFF 3631
Firefighter Ends Cancer Treatment

ORANGE – A firetruck full of uniformed men arrived at St. Joseph Hospital on Tuesday, not to battle flames, but to celebrate the end of a colleague’s cancer fight.

About 20 smiling firefighters crowded in a cancer treatment room to cheer on their friend and colleague, Johnny Choy of the Orange County Fire Authority’s Westminster station, through his final session of chemotherapy. 

“We’re like a second family to each other, our fire battalion.” said Capt. Ryan Rinehart of the San Clemente station, who has known Choy since they both started training as firefighters nearly 25 years ago. “So, it’s important that we be here today to support Johnny, who is one of the most upbeat and positive people I’ve worked with.”

When Choy, 48, was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer in May, his illness caught everyone by surprise. Choy, a married father of two teenagers, ate healthy, stayed active and avoided smoking and drinking. He had no family history of the disease and was younger than most colorectal cancer patients, 90 percent of whom are over 50.

“When I heard the news, cancer was the last thing on my mind.” said Choy, a longtime Anaheim resident and firefighter of 23 years.

As Choy dealt with the shock of his diagnosis, he first chose to keep his illness private. But as time went on, he began to find encouragement in the support from his colleagues, some of whom shared their own experiences battling cancer.

Luckily for Choy, his tumor was removed before the cancer spread to his liver or lungs. Choy says he hopes bringing attention to his cause will raise awareness about the importance of early cancer detection.

Colorectal cancer is one of the top five most common types in the United States, affecting about 142,000 people in the nation last year. The disease has high survival rates, but only if caught in the early stages. Colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for men and women over 50.

“I’m 52 years old and have never had a colon cancer screening,” Division Chief Jon Jones said. “This is a real wake-up call for me.”

As he finished his last few minutes of chemotherapy, Choy said he hopes to return to his post later this month. He said he’s eager to return to the familiar routine and camaraderie of his job.

“I’m excited to get back to work. You can get a little stir crazy at home,” Choy said. “And plus, my wife gets annoyed with me being around all the time,” he joked.

Thank You
The Orange County Professional Firefighters Association would like to thank the following for their generous donations to the Fallen Firefighters Relief Fund.  Thank you! 

Leviton, Diaz & Ginocchio, Inc.: $100

Tom Lane & Mike Ponzi: $250

SoCal Firemen’s Golf Association: $2,900 

 
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Current news directly from IAFF locals, councils, and state/province associations in the US and Canada.

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