Hi, my name is Joe Nestor. I started with the Pasadena (CA) Fire Department on March 27, 1972. In 1974, I was the second firefighter from Pasadena Fire Department to go to paramedic training. In 1979, I was promoted to fire captain, and as a captain I served as the city’s disaster preparedness coordinator. In 1981 I was promoted to fire captain II, and I was on a truck company until my promotion to battalion chief in 1987. I served as an operation battalion chief overseeing eight fire stations with eight engine companies, two truck companies and four paramedic transport ambulances. As a battalion chief, I also served as the department’s training coordinator.
In 2001, while serving as the fire marshal and liaison to the Tournament of Roses, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I had surgery to remove the tumor and was back to work in two weeks. In 2002, the cancer returned and along with surgery, I began receiving localized chemotherapy. Even with the chemo, I only needed to miss 10 days of work.
In 2002, while still undergoing chemo, I accepted the position of fire chief with the City of San Gabriel, California. I always tell people, “Don’t let the cancer interfere with your life any more than it has to.” In 2005, the cancer returned in a very mild form. I again underwent surgery and localized chemo, and I have been cancer-free since April 2005. I love serving as a mentor, because the only thing I regret about my cancer diagnosis is not being able to talk to someone about my cancer during those first couple of weeks. I am very grateful to be in remission, and anything I can do to help relieve someone else’s anxiety and worry is so rewarding.
In April 2013, I had open-heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. I feel very fortunate that the aneurysm was discovered on a routine echocardiogram, and I am doing very well with no serious side effects. I recently retired as fire chief for the San Gabriel Fire Department, and am looking forward to spending more time with the family.