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Bill for firefighter cancer fund moves to Senate

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Posted at 3:05 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 16:10:48-04

Legislation that would add $1 million to a fund for firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer has now moved to the full Senate for consideration. 

Lawmakers have vowed to approve the bill.

Earlier in March, Firefighters from across the state and New York have rallied for support in Lansing. 

They were at the Capitol to encourage the state legislature to take action on a first responders fund to help their colleagues who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Lawmakers promised to approve money for the supplemental cancer fund, $1 million for this budget year and $3 million for the next. 

The issue started when politicians passed a law to help firefighters with cancer treatment, but they never funded it - and firefighters had to pay the price.

Firefighters are getting sick and when they do, fellow firefighters are the ones coming to their aid.

Highland Park firefighter Hugo Gomez admits he loves fighting fires. The flames, the heat, the danger. It’s a rush and it nearly cost him his life.

When the father found out he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he was devastated-- but he couldn’t afford to quit or even take time off.

During his treatment, the first responder cancer presumption law passed, only it did him no good, the fund was dry.

So his fellow firefighters picked up the slack.

Politicians couldn’t originally find $3 million in a $55 billion budget to help our heroes, but they did find money for new senate offices - swanky offices with views of the capitol, a private entry – even a TV studio!

The annual mortgage payment is $3.4 million.

Even with insurance, cancer treatment can be expensive. The fund was passed to cover the gap.

Instead, his firefighting family helped, holding fundraisers, and picking up his shifts.

Gomez’s cancer also did something else. It taught all of them, the real danger isn’t always the flames themselves, but what’s in them.