Milford Firefighters hope local leaders will help those diagnosed with cancer

MILFORD FF CANCER FOR THE WEB

Boston 25 News recently uncovered the high risk of cancer that Boston firefighters face. While some people think this is a big city problem, that's not the case.

Inside the walls of the Milford Fire Department, the brotherhood runs deep among the 40 who work there.

>> Boston's Bravest: Facing a Hidden Killer

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Ted DePaolo misses that. He's one of nine Milford firefighters who is either battling cancer, or lost their battle. He believes his esophageal cancer is due to his decades on the job.

"We're all supposed to go home at the end of the shift. Some of us are going home with something we don't know about until later on," said DePaolo.

Ted had eight surgeries where 65 percent of his stomach was removed and went through 25 rounds of chemo.

"I've lost 136 pounds," said DePaolo.

As he puts it, the town retired him and then he was no longer covered under the town's insurance, even though he was diagnosed as a firefighter.

"I think from a financial standpoint, they don't want to address everything because they don't want the expenditures and the liability," said DePaolo.

And he's not alone.

Robert Lorenzo was a firefighter in Milford for nearly 32 years and was just diagnosed with cancer for a third time.

"The worst day of my life wasn't being diagnosed with cancer... it was having to put in my retirement papers," said Lorenzo.

He had used up his sick time.

The city had been paying the co-pays and other costs while Lorenzo was employed with the town.

"Once I walked out the door, they were no longer going to take care of that," said Lorenzo.

Boston 25 News recently found that in all but six communities in Massachusetts, firefighters use their own sick time and health insurance while they fight cancer.

It's something state lawmakers are considering to change.

After speaking with Ted and Robert, Boston 25 News anchor Blair Miller spoke with the Fire Chief in Milford. He said he now plans to talk with town leaders to see what they can do and possibly help cover any medical expenses that aren't covered by health insurance.