"GET CHECKED NOW!"- Personal Sustainability in the Fire Service
Driven by the profound voices of firefighters (retired and active), the NY Cancer Resource Alliance and F.A.C.E.S. Foundation launched new community resources to support cancer awareness, prevention and early detection. This year, the two organizations united to break new ground in public education and clinical support, with the help of a few remarkable new friends.On a recent interview with oncologist, Dr. Ben Ho Park of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we discussed occupational hazards in the fire service as well as other high-risk professions.
Occupational cancer claims have been upended due to the lengthy response time for most cancers to develop in the body. From time of exposure (or multiple exposures), it often take years before genetic mutation fully manifest itself. Cancers never happen overnight, and the DNA damage that leads to cancer actually has to happen very slowly over years. Cancer isn't just one DNA mistake in a cell; it's actually multiple DNA mistakes in the same cell and again, it takes several years for the mutation to occur, often leading to a decade or more before it manifests into something that we clinically can detect as a tumor.
EXPANDING DIAGNOSTIC INNOVATIONS
Tracking, screening and monitoring cancers plays a major role in building the treatment strategy. Technologies like MRI's, Pet-CT scans and advanced ultrasounds are often used on the imaging side, while tissue biopsies are also part of the current gold standard from the lab side. One of the areas of research interests that my colleagues and I have is the use of what's known as LIQUID BIOPSIES- a form of blood test designed to look and see whether a patient has early signs/stages of cancer. This is still something that is in infancy and nobody really has proven that one way is better than the other. There are a growing number of companies and academic institutions that are starting to really roll this out with the hopes of giving people a simple blood tests that shows that they have a cancer somewhere. Someday, we could actually catch things very, very early and affect a higher rate of cure. I don't think we're quite there yet for everyone, but I think we're getting closer every day and really through research and help and volunteers like the firefighters we're going to make a big impact in the next 10 years
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BEN HO PARK, MD, Ph.D. Professor of Medicine & Director of Precision Oncology in Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Park was recently elected to join the medical advisory board for the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and the NY Cancer Resource Alliance. He is often called to present in educational venues about a wide range of critical topics in cancer diagnostics and treatment. His most recent appointment is as a technical advisor for Occupational Cancers in the Fire Service- a national program co- designed by NYCRA and F.A.C.E.S. Foundation. (also see above video)
1) Source: NFPA: Firefighters and cancer: https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Resources/Emergency-Responders/Health-and-Wellness/Firefighters-and-cancer
F.A.C.E.S. SPOTLIGHT: THE VOICES OF FIREFIGHTER'S CANCER AWARENESS
"Cousin" SAL BANCHITTA: is Assoc. Communications Dir. to local FD. After a profound 20+ year career in the NY Fire Department, "Cousin" Sal gave all at the fire service- including his last assignment as one of the first responders in Ground Zero (9/11). He considers the firefighter "the first and last line of defense to protect all the members of the community from any catastrophe". His next personal crusade past fire calls is to share his own experiences and his research on the many cancer cases found "from the job" to drive his brethren to heed NYCRA's cancer prevention message of "Get Checked Now!" Sal continues to volunteer as a speaker in firehouses and FF meetings, contributing his unique presentation style and counseling approach known only as "FROM THE KITCHEN"- a parlance between firefighters.
ROBERT L. BARD, MD - F.A.C.E.S. Senior Medical Advisor/Cancer Diagnostic Specialist. It is a specialized science and a honed craft to read (and predict) cancer behavior in real time through imaging. Dr. Bard attributes his career in radiology to the US Air Force, having served in military hospitals in Thailand and Laos in the early ‘70’s. His expertise was founded on the critical demands for immediate response and real-time diagnostic implementation of scanning technologies where time and accuracy are of the ultimate essence. His critical eye for the many medical imaging devices to the 'battle hardened' challenges of a military hospital setting is also a main asset as a "cancer detective". Having worked with countless military patients, to first responders (including many from 9/11 rescue units), Dr. Bard's record as a medical leader in cancer diagnostics is an asset to the fight against cancer.
DANNY NOONAN: A National Safety Advocate and NYCRA Educational Ambassador, Mr. Noonan's career started in Ladder Company 3 on East 13th street where only two years into the fire service, he experienced one of the most historical and devastating fires in the history of NYC Fire Department. He has since been an advocate for the 699 firefighters who responded to the Telephone Company Fire. His countless presentations and published work continues to raise education, awareness and prevention for all emergency responders about occupational toxic exposures and incendiary airborne toxicities and carcinogens. His presentations include valuable references from 9/11 and the 1975 NY Tel Exchange Fire, what many consider the second most deadly and costliest in the long history of the FDNY.
|2001- Andrea Booher overlooks Ground Zero from|
rooftop vantage point
THE 2021 F.A.C.E.S. UNITE PROJECT
Firefighters Against Cancer & Exposures is a national association comprised of active and retired firefighters, cancer advocates, medical professionals, educators and patient advocates united to provide a wide range of supportive resources. These resources are available to any and all first responders in need of assistance. Our members are committed to the continued extension of help to the many who have sacrificed all in the line of duty of the fire service.