Firefighter cancer: widows untapped information source

Firefighter cancer: widows untapped information source

It is very obvious that studying firefighter cancer is very important and can go a long way toward protecting those who lay down their lives for us every day.

But, I feel we are missing a lot of science and data that would be easy to collect—just talk to the widows of firefighters everywhere. None of the cancers their firefighters had are even being reported. Many of these guys were retired before the cancer drive began, so their cancers aren’t even being considered.

My husband, John D. Seymour Jr., firefighter, engineer, and paramedic, retired from Jacksonville (FL) Fire Rescue Department about 20 years ago. Cancers began before he ever left the job. All in all, when he passed away on October 8, 2012, he suffered from many varieties of skin cancers; an advanced and aggressive prostate cancer; and, in the end, a very aggressive pancreatic cancer that killed him within 30 days of his first symptom. To my knowledge, none of these cancers was reported to those who are studying firefighter cancers in spite of the fact that he was involved in a number of serious chemical fires in the area.

Why is there no interest in using the information we widows have to help the cause? I contacted the Firefighter Cancer Organization and others with this suggestion. No one ever called me back. Please take advantage of our knowledge, as I believe we can help in these studies by reporting cancers that go unreported.

Angela Seymour

Widow, Firefighter John D. Seymour Jr. Jacksonville, Florida

Teachable moments

I recently reviewed a video of a class I had taught a couple of years ago. It amazed me at how the feelings and thoughts I meant to portray in one way came off completely differently simply because of my delivery. Throughout my life, I have consistently heard that I need to calm down, quiet down, and control my emotions. This is a family trait, but I understand what some view as aggressive, others may view as passionate, and yet others may view as offensive. Controlling my passion when conveying my thoughts and feelings so that the receivers don’t feel as though I am yelling at them is a great personal struggle, and one that I consistently work on. Sometimes in my fervor to adamantly instill lifesaving information, my emotions draw out the “outside voice,” and there is nothing for the receiver to do but “shelter in place.” My teachable moments became more of a thunderstorm rather than a soaking rain of information.

I have spent much time working on my delivery to groups and individuals. I have realized that the response to a topic is most often commensurate to the delivery. When you are aggressive in your delivery of a subject, you often get an aggressive response. Conversely, when you use quiet tones and calm, the response of the receiver mimics that calm. This is the basic foundation that motivational speakers use. Using their honed speaking skills, they can elicit multiple responses from an audience simply by changing the tone of their delivery.

Why am I baring my soul here? It is both a catharsis for me as well as encouragement to all of you that we encounter an amazing number of teachable moments every day. For some, the quiet tone is natural. Others need to take a breath and remember what we are trying to accomplish when speaking. It is amazing what working toward a calm presentation can do for virtually every decision.

The next time you have the opportunity to have a teaching moment with a brother or sister, step back for a second, take a breath, and remember your desire to instill a potentially lifesaving point in the toolbox of another is often best accomplished by gently placing it there instead of throwing it from across the room.

Dale E. Hille

Lieutenant/Training Coordinator

Grant County Fire District #3

Quincy, Washington

KUDOS ON August issue

I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Heroic Dream” (Editor’s Opinion, August 2015). I was sitting on my pool deck with my kids, reading and enjoying our beautiful weather. I couldn’t put the magazine down! Every article was fantastic.

Tom Merrill

Fire/Rescue Dispatcher

Amherst (NY) Central Fire Alarm Office


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