As a career firefighter, I have seen brothers and sisters in the fire service, face the harsh realization of cancer. After losing a brother, friend, and mentor to a line of duty death due to cancer, I wanted to find additional help for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. I also considered the impact on mental health as well, and realized that providing some form of financial help was something that was not provided. Going through the experience of watching one of my brothers battle cancer was difficult because we chose a career to help people, and I felt like I could not help my brother enough. Keith was more than a brother in the fire service, he was also a hero. I painfully watched the effect that cancer had on Keith and how difficult it was for his family to see him that way. I vowed to find a way to help firefighters, even if it is only to relieve a portion of their stress. Additionally, I want to focus on education and awareness. The key to saving lives is early detection. I don’t want to just prolong a firefighter’s life, I want to help save their life.
Lieutenant Keith Long was an amazing person, not only in the fire service, but also in his personal life. Keith was a real hero, one who was prideful and mentored many firefighters throughout their careers. Unfortunately, after more than 20 years in the fire service, and dedicating himself to saving others, Keith passed away from cancer. Keith battled the cancer for more than three years, and despite the physical and mental aspects of cancer, he continued to work every shift. Keith was relentless and fought to the very end. Through his battle with cancer, Keith continued to be a role model for the fire service and as a family man. Keith inspired us all and his memory will be lived through FACE’s. Firefighters Against Cancer and Exposures is a non-profit foundation that was established in Keith’s memory, to help save the lives of heroes.