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On Christmas Eve of 2013, past Chief of Whitesboro and Deputy Fire Coordinator “271” for Oneida County, Brian McQueen, was diagnosed with B Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Since that difficult day, Brian and his family have had to tackle the trials and tribulations that go along with this prognosis with hopes that one day he would be cancer free.

Brian, under the advisement of other cancer survivors, decided to have further diagnosis and treatments at one of the nation’s best cancer facilities, Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. He sent his tests and biopsy reports to a team of oncologists at Sloan that specialize in Lymphoma. It was at MSKCC that Dr. Joachim Yahalom, an internationally known oncologist, researched Brian’s diagnosis, confirmed it and informed him that B-cell Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the fire service today.

From this day forward, the mission of our Foundation began to grow through financial and educational assistance to volunteer firefighters battling cancer and life-threatening illnesses. This team collectively decided that 20 days of Intensified Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) would be the treatment that would offer the best results. He completed those treatments on March 21st.

On May 6, 2014, McQueen traveled back to Sloan Kettering for a PET scan and review of his progress. He was elated to hear that the scan revealed no signs of cancer. He will remain vigilant against this disease by practicing firefighter safety and following up with medical appointments.

 

Believe 271 Fund is Founded

Prior to McQueen’s month long stay in New York City, two firefighters from the Barneveld Fire Department, Brian Healey, Chief, and Brian Palmer, Captain, met with Brian McQueen to offer financial assistance for his transportation, hotel and food expenses while in New York City. 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 fire members.” Hence the Believe 271 Fund was founded. The 12 Board of Directors are currently working on raising funds, we are a 501(c)3 status not-for-profit foundation, and have already awarded funds to local firefighters with cancer.

 

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 getting:

  • 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)