(Taney County, Mo.-- 11/15/2017) For firefighters facing deadly situations is part of the job, but a study getting a fresh look in Missouri indicates that a major threat to firefighters well being.
FOX5's Brennon Gurley highlights the plight of one firefighter from our area who has been battling cancer.
They respond to our calls everyday to keep us safe. Now they are fighting a different kind of fire
"It’s here, I’m going to have to do what I’m going to have to do so I might as well do what I can while going through it," explains volunteer firefighter Alex Pate. who was diagnosed with testicular cancer this year.
As cancer continues to prove even our strongest heroes are not immune to it. A firefighter from the Central Taney County Fire Department was recently diagnosed.
"Don’t take things for granted. Cause there was times like oh crap I’ve got cancer, I’m only 23. I’ve still got a lot to do, but just don’t look back and live life."
It only took six years of fighting fires before volunteer firefighter Alex was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
"After week 4 I was pretty much bed ridden. Just couldn’t do nothing, no energy, just puking all day. And did that for 9 weeks."
Even though cancer wasn’t in the gentic cards for this firefighter, his faith was something that kept him motivated.
"Feel like God’s not going to challenge you with anything you can’t handle. I figured I’d rather take care of it then anyone else that might be able to handle it as well."
The International Association of Firefighters reports 60% of firefighters die of cancer.
"I tried putting the face on and being all tough as much as I could to just not bring everyone else down, but there was times where I just couldn’t."
Now that Alex is cancer free, he eats better and exercises a few times a week. He says hes grateful to be alive.
"I was ready to give up multiple times,but that’s when that support group came in and was pretty solid and pushed me through."
Allison Pate is Alex's wife. She tells FOX5," He helps everyone he possibly can and to know he never turned away from helping and he was diagnosed at such a young age I was mad."
Family support is crucial when battling this deadly disease and Alex says his family gave him strength.
"I knew my husband was strong when I married him, I knew that. I did not know how strong he was. I’ve learned he’ll take anything head on and deal with it and so he’s one of the strongest people I know."
After Alex was diagnosed with cancer, Central Taney County Training Officer Jeff Romines wants his firefighters to know how to lower their risks.
"Anything you do in life you have a risk. So it depends on what your job is. You have to be more aware, more aware of your surroundings, that’s where training and education but you have to listen to that," explains Romines.
The most direct cause is the toxins in the smoke seep into their gear and skin.
"It’s a brotherhood, it’s a family, and you worry. You worry about the dangerous issues of the fire."
While the 23 year old says its been an eye opening experience to learn about the links between fighting fires and cancer, he wouldn’t trade his job for any other.
"I think all experiences good or bad help you out in the long run. So I feel like it sets me ahead in some aspects," explains Alex.