Sen. Fischer fights for Firefighter Cancer Registry

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska is leading a political push to fund a firefighter cancer registry with $2.5 million.

A fire chief was stricken with a medical emergency at a funeral for a fallen firefighter in Maine.

Its goal is to understand the relationship between firefighters and the deadly disease.

"It kills you inside a little bit,” said Vice President of the Omaha firefighters’ union.

Omaha firefighters watch as one after the other receives the disheartening news.

"It saddens you because there's nothing you can do to stop it.,” said Corcoran. "We don't like, as firefighters, dealing with things that are out of our control.”

Corcoran tells our sister station WOWT 6 News, 36 of the city's firefighters have been treated for cancer in the past 18 months.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters are at a higher risk for a cancer diagnosis, and to die from the disease, in several different forms.

"Testicular cancer is all the way at the top at 102% more likely" said Chad Kinney, executive board member of the firefighters’ union.

Corcoran wears sleeves to hide marks left by the invasive toxins.

"From the elbow down where the soot and the debris in fires infiltrate, around the face and around the neck,” said Corcoran.

Cancerous spots began to show on the 24-year serviceman seven years ago.

It took him a few more to realize where they came from.

"We're much more susceptible to cancer through absorption than we ever thought we were,” said Kinney.

Six months of chemotherapy pills is a challenge he's willing to endure.

"Over 80 total form the forearms down, around the neck and around the face,” said Corcoran.

He’s still alive. His fellow firefighters didn't share the same fate.

"We can get ahead of this and protect ourselves from this danger,” said Kinney.

Firefighters say it was a badge of honor to get their gear as dirty as possible as quickly as they could. That way of thinking has changed since they realized the harm it does, especially since Omaha firefighters only have one set of gear at the moment. They're working to get another set soon.