Mass. Firefighter Fighting Flames of Cancer

Being a firefighter comes with unexpected risks, endured by the selfless and courageous.

From BOSTON HERALD | By Lindsay Kalter:   Chelsea firefighter Pete Kannler has faced the flames of a six-alarm fire, stood atop a crumbling roof and felt a burning floor give way beneath his feet.   Now the 36-year-old is fighting the toughest battle of his life as an aggressive form of esophageal cancer, usually found in people twice his age, attacks his body.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]According to Pete’s doctor, there are tumors more common in firefighters, including­ stomach and esophageal tumors.[/pullquote]

“You can sit in your bedroom and cry or you can fight it,” said Kannler. “I’m not going to let it define­ me. I’m just not going to give up.”

Kannler, who lives in Townsend with his wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 4, went to the doctor for what he thought was a bleeding ulcer­ in July. Instead they found cancer — a form of adeno­carcinoma — where his esophagus meets his stomach that had spread to his liver and lymph nodes.

He was told he had a 4 percent chance of living five years.

The official diagnosis is usually seen in the elderly and brought on by acid reflux or long-term smoking­. Kannler had none of the risk factors. He was fit and otherwise healthy — he had just run an intense mud race, “Tough Mudder,” two weeks before his cancer was discovered.

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