A Shoulder to Lean On
Our mentors are ready to guide you through the challenges of coping with cancer.
My name is Joe Militello. I was born in New Jersey, and I started my EMS career there because my mother and father were very active for our local volunteer ambulance service, Haledon Ambulance Service. I completed my EMT certification in 1978. After I moved to Florida in 1984, I worked for North County EMS and Jupiter Medical Center for 11 years as EMS director. While at Jupiter Medical Center, I met my wife, Kimberly, and we have been very happily married for 20 years. We have two wonderful children, Jonathon, 18, and Alicia, 15. I am currently working as a firefighter paramedic engineer for North Palm Beach (FL) Fire Rescue. I have been employed by North Palm for the past 15 years.
I was diagnosed in October 2011 with stage IV non-Hodgkin follicular B-cell lymphoma. My initial reaction was not fear, but anger! Not a violent type of anger, more like a “You’re not going to kill me” type of anger. My first question to my oncologist was not “Am I going to die?” or “How long do I have?” It was “OK … when do we start the treatment so I can get rid of this crap?”!
Everyone in the fire service has someone who stands out, who has made a difference in his or her path, career and life. I have two. They are my father, Salvatore, of course, for his strength and resilience, and my father-in-law, Alfred “Teddy” Senecal. My father-in-law was a fire captain for West Palm Beach (FL) Fire Rescue. He retired after 32 years of service in 2004. In his third year of retirement, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, then esophageal cancer. Nine months after his diagnosis, he passed away.
Once my chemotherapy started, my mind went crazy with all of the “what-ifs”! My salvation was my faith in God and my loving family. Then I reached out for more answers and found Debbie Pike and Keith Tyson of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. I received weekly calls and emails from the FCSN. Because of their caring support, I proudly became a mentor myself. I am currently in remission. I will get my final cancer clearance in October 2016. I consider that my next graduation.
I am a firefighter! I have faced cancer, and I will ALWAYS be there for whomever I can, whenever I can! This is what I live by. Stay healthy and stay safe!
Hello, my name is Marion Jaikowski, a proud 20-year member of the L.A. County Fire Department. Currently, I work as a fire prevention engineer serving 17 local South Bay cities on new construction life-safety issues. On my days off, I love to travel to exotic places and experience different cultures and history.
Another important role I have undertaken is mentoring people affected by cancer through the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. As a two-time survivor of both thyroid and breast cancer, I have firsthand experience of how it can affect not only your life, but also that of your family and friends.
I love helping people in the fire service and their family members navigate the issues that cancer brings to their lives. I also like being able to give them hope and inspiration that they can still beat this disease. I have been fortunate to be inspired and love to pay it forward.