A volunteer firefighter in Blackfalds for 15 years, Dave Sutherland now battling cancer.
He has been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer and the same one that killed Sutherland’s favourite singer-songwriter Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip. Downie died in October 2017.
His friends have posted a GoFundMe page to help Dave and his family with the extra costs that come with treatment.
“Being a volunteer firefighter, there is little WCB coverage as it wasn’t his regular job. Now Dave and his family are facing this burden alone, and having to bear the financial strain of no income, as well as the massive amount of medical bills and medications he will have to pay out of pocket,” reads the GoFundMe page.
On his Facebook page, Dave Sutherland wrote he has been having vision problems, headaches, nausea, and dizziness since June, 2017. He visited an eye specialist in November and after two MRIs he was told he had a brain tumour.
“People hear about firefighters dying in the line of duty all the time in spectacular fires, rescue attempts and on the highways, but there are more of us facing the long-term effects of immersing ourselves in carcinogens and losing the battle.”
“We haven’t given up and will fight this SOB as long and as hard as we can.”
According to the U.S.’s Centre for Disease Control, firefighters have a higher-than-expected rate of certain types of cancer.
The Blackfalds Firefighters Association said “He has given 15 years of his time, 15 years of running out the door at all hours to help others and he now needs our help. Times are tough for everyone, but please help our firefighter as he battles this terrible, terminal disease, and help his family as they go through this horrific ordeal.”
Some members of the Blackfalds Fire Department will participate in the Wellspring Firefighter Stair Climb, in Calgary in April. The fundraiser is a climb of 775 vertical feet (1,205 steps) up the Bow Building in Calgary. Firefighters can be timed wearing their full duty gear. It is in support of Wellspring Calgary, which provides programs, resources and support to people living with cancer along with their caregivers.