Firefighters gather in Boston to learn about occupational cancer

BOSTON — Hundreds of firefighters spent the week in Boston learning about the dangers they're exposed to on the job and shared their stories.

As Boston 25 News anchor Blair Miller has extensively reported, firefighters are at a greater risk for occupational cancer.

The Boston Fire Commissioner Joe Finn says more than 190 Boston firefighters have died from occupational cancer since 1990 -- a number that he says is only growing.

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Firefighters from all over gathered to learn about the hightened risk of cancer after years of being exposed to toxic chemicals on the job. Boston Fire Union President Richie Paris says the message is clear.

"Wash your bunker gear, do the right thing, put your face piece on because all of the firefighters that have passed...I think would do that today if they could," said Paris.

Glenn Preston, one of the many firefighters whose stories Boston 25 News has been following, was at this week's conference, dressed in his uniform for the first time since fighting cancer.

Fire Commissioner Finn introduced Glenn and shared his story - his battle against blood cancer - that had him in and out of the hospital. But now, Glenn can finally say he's cancer-free.

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"Glenn is, as we speak, here today Cancer free," said Commissioner Finn. "It wasn't easy. There were days where we'd sit and talk and you could tell it was a struggle for him and yet he persevered."

At times, Glenn's journey is still a struggle, as doctors say he's not completely out of the woods yet. Yet, Glenn pushes through the adversities and made the effort to talk to other firefighters and share his story about fighting cancer from years on the job.

"Some days are good and some days are great, but I can't complain, I'm still here," said Glenn. "It really is important for me to be here today because I'm lucky to be here. It's important for me to be able to show that if you lean into it, sometimes by the grace of God everything will be ok."

Right now, Glenn just needs time to wait to get hsi strength back and his blood counts higher. He believes he can come back to work at the fire house by the end of the summer.

While doctors have told him that might be hard, Glenn is not only a fighter, but is also full of optimism.