Christmas Eve 2013, past Chief of Whitesboro and former Deputy Fire Coordinator “271” for Oneida County, Brian McQueen, was diagnosed with B Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
With the support of family and friends, Brian sought further diagnosis and treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSKCC) in New York City. It was at MSKCC that Dr. Joachim Yahalom, internationally known oncologist, researched and confirmed Brian’s diagnosis. When Dr. Yahalom shared this grim diagnosis he connected his volunteerism in the fire service as to the probable cause.
Brian’s team collectively decided that 25 days of Intensified Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) would be the treatment that would offer the best results. He completed those treatments in March 2014.
May 6, 2014, Brian’s scans revealed no signs of cancer. Brian remains vigilant against this disease by practicing firefighter safety and following up with medical appointments.
Since then, the mission of The Believe 271 Foundation, Inc. has grown offering financial and educational assistance to volunteer firefighters battling cancer and life-threatening illnesses. As of February 1, they have assisted 48 firefighters/ladies auxiliary members from Oneida and Herkimer Counties, in excess of $133,000.00.
Believe 271 Foundation is Founded
Prior to Brian’s six-week long stay in New York City, two firefighters from the Barneveld Fire Department, Brian Healey, Chief, and Brian Palmer, Captain, met with him to offer financial assistance for his transportation, hotel and food expenses. When they approached Brian with the idea to sell helmet stickers to offset his travel expenses, he said he would rather “take this to the next level”. “Make it a little bit bigger, a little bit better, and help out other fire departments and other firefighters.”
Hence the Believe 271 Foundation was founded. We are currently working on raising funds and the organization is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit.
Cancer in the Fire Service
Firefighter cancer is a looming personal catastrophe for each and every firefighter. Multiple studies have supported the higher risk of multiple types of cancer in firefighters compared to the general American population.
Firefighters have a greater risk of developing:
- Testicular Cancer (2.02 times)
- Multiple Myeloma (1.53 times)
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (1.51 times)
- Skin Cancer (1.39 times)
- Prostrate Cancer (1.28 times)
- Malignant Melanoma (1.31 times)
- Brain Cancer (1.31 times)
- Colon Cancer (1.21 times)
- Leukemia (1.14 times)