Westport firefighter, cancer survivor raising awareness through 'Still Responding'
The Firefighter Cancer Alliance says the disease is the second leading cause of death among firefighters in the U.S.
A local firefighter is hoping to change that.
"I found out I had cancer in my leg in 2017," said Westport firefighter Paul Spennato. Spennato said he had a rare form of cancer that kept him in pain on the job.
"I was completely devastated. It was something that I just learned about after just celebrating my daughters first birthday," said Spennato.
The 13-year veteran says fellow firefighter, Turk Aksoy, mentored him before he died from colon cancer.
"This department really stepped up. When I was sick, they helped me out tremendously," said Spennato.
Spennato began to talk about his experience at the Westport firehouse.
Pretty soon, he started sharing his story with other departments.
"Once people saw me talk, they wanted me to come to their department and share my story and I wanted to get out there cause it was important for me to help others the way I was helped," said Spennato.
Spennato has now been to departments all over the region raising awareness about firefighter cancer through his program called "Still Responding."
"I just don't want someone else to have to go through the same things that I had to go through. If I could bring awareness and help people reduce their risks. If they do one thing out of that program I feel like I did my job and I helped somebody out," said Spennato.
The brotherhood of the fire service faces dangers every day - Spennato hopes cancer isn't one of them.
Spennato says he periodically goes back to Memorial Sloan Kettering for checkups.