Cancer Claims 2 Metro Detroit Firefighters on the Same Day - New York News

Cancer Claims 2 Metro Detroit Firefighters on the Same Day

Posted: Updated:
WJBK Fox 2 -

Two metro Detroit communities are dealing with the loss of firefighters to cancer this week. Shelby Township lost its longtime fire chief, and Canton lost a seasoned veteran to melanoma.

"We're going to miss him dearly. We really are," said Canton Fire Captain Greg Sprys-Tellner.

"Never complained. I mean, you could see it when he was there. He was tired and weak, but he wanted to be there. He wanted to work," said Canton Fire Battalion Chief Mike Caruso.

"You don't find them better than Ryan, you really don't," said Canton firefighter Mike Thoms.

"Something simple as a spot is how it started out, and he went in and it just progressively got worse," said Canton Fire Chief Tim Dunn.

It started with a spot on his back and ended with the tragic death of 33-year-old Ryan Swick. He was Canton's firefighter of the year, a husband and father. His children are just one and three years old.

During his three years battling melanoma, he tried to educate others about skin cancer.

"They had shirts made up that said holy moly, stay out of the sun, stay in the shade. I mean, they even started handing out sunscreen and stuff like that," Thoms said.

Swick's death Monday night came the same night Shelby Township Fire Chief Gene Shepherd lost his battle with clear-cell sarcoma, a rare cancer that can come from melanoma.

We met with dermatologist Steve Grekin to learn more about this deadly disease.

"Melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, fortunately, but it's the most deadly, upwards of close to 10,000 deaths a year in the United States."

Greckin showed us a mole on a patient's foot. It was irregular -- the color, the borders, it was asymmetrical and puffy -- on its way to becoming melanoma.

Other skin cancers, carcinomas, are far more common and caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.

Here's the thing about skin cancer. No one is immune. People of color can get skin cancer, and Dr. Grekin says his youngest melanoma patient ever was a twelve-year-old girl.

"Everybody who's had one blistering sunburn in their life should have a full body skin exam once a year," he explained. "Early detection saves lives in skin cancer."

Greckin's patient Craig Johnson sure knows it. He has been cancer free for almost nine years. He went in to ask about something on his shoulder that his wife had noticed, but they found a mole on his back that was malignant.

"I just said it can't be any big deal, but Dr. Grekin and Jan at the time told me there was an angel on your shoulder when you came in here today, and I was very fortunate, very lucky."

"The statistics are shocking. The disease is real, and it's preventable with early detection," Grekin said.

It's a lesson the Canton firefighters will carry with them always and share with others. Always use your sunscreen. Stay away from tanning beds. Check your skin regularly and get to the doctor right away if you spot something unusual.

_____

Funeral Information:

Visitation for Ryan Swick will be Monday, May 21 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Connection Church, 3855 South Sheldon Road in Canton. A service will follow at the church at 11:30 a.m. The family is asking donations be made to the Canton Firefighters Charity Foundation (C.F.F.C.F.)  Click here for more information on making donations »

Visitation for Chief Gene Shepherd will be Saturday, May 19 from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 20 from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Wujek-Calcaterra Funeral Home at 54880 Van Dyke in Shelby Township. His funeral will be Monday, May 21 at 11:00 a.m. at the Cornerstone Baptist Church at 17017 Twelve Mile Road in Roseville.

  • Amy LangeMore from Amy LangeMore>>

  • Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor charged with domestic violence

    Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor charged with domestic violence

    Wednesday, September 10 2014 5:18 PM EDT2014-09-10 21:18:53 GMT
    Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Stevens, 50, was arrested Sunday at his Macomb County home, after his wife called 911 claiming that he assaulted her.
    Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Stevens, 50, was arrested Sunday at his Macomb County home, after his wife called 911 claiming that he assaulted her.
  • Friends mourn murdered Bloomfield Twp. man

    Friends mourn murdered Bloomfield Twp. man

    Wednesday, September 10 2014 12:14 AM EDT2014-09-10 04:14:50 GMT
    Friends of murdered Bloomfield Twp mourn 77-year-old Billy Whitelaw who was found dead in his Knoll Pointe condo just days ago.
    Friends of murdered Bloomfield Twp mourn 77-year-old Billy Whitelaw who was found dead in his Knoll Pointe condo just days ago.
  • Judge says possible resolution in Bashara murder case

    Judge says possible resolution in Bashara murder case

    Monday, September 8 2014 9:34 PM EDT2014-09-09 01:34:15 GMT
    Bob Bashara was back in court today for what was supposed to be the final conference before his trial starts for the brutal murder of his wife. However, in court today, Wayne County Circuit court judge Vonda Evans suggested that Bashara consider accepting a plea deal that was discussed privately in the her chambers.
    Bob Bashara was back in court today for what was supposed to be the final conference before his trial starts for the brutal murder of his wife. However, in court today, Wayne County Circuit court judge Vonda Evans suggested that Bashara consider accepting a plea deal that was discussed privately in the her chambers.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Schumer proposes ban on 10 flame retardants

    Schumer proposes ban on 10 flame retardants

    Sunday, September 14 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-09-15 02:42:47 GMT
    Gov. Andrew CuomoGov. Andrew Cuomo
    Senator Charles Schumer says a Duke University study has found flame retardants in upholstered furniture and children's products like toys, pajamas and pillows to be highly toxic. The chemicals have also been linked to developmental delays and rare cancers in firefighters as well as cancers and hormone disruption in children.
    Senator Charles Schumer says a Duke University study has found flame retardants in upholstered furniture and children's products like toys, pajamas and pillows to be highly toxic. The chemicals have also been linked to developmental delays and rare cancers in firefighters as well as cancers and hormone disruption in children.
  • Electricity goes out at Six Flags, guests left stranded

    Electricity goes out at Six Flags, guests left stranded

    Sunday, September 14 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-09-14 22:50:36 GMT
    Six Flags Great Adventure 45th anniversary logo. (AP photo)Six Flags Great Adventure 45th anniversary logo. (AP photo)
    It wasn't the amusement park thrill they were expecting. Some people at Great Adventure in New Jersey were left stranded on rides after a power outage.
    It wasn't the amusement park thrill they were expecting. Some people at Great Adventure in New Jersey were left stranded on rides after a power outage.
  • Stranded jet skiers rescued off Staten Island

    Stranded jet skiers rescued off Staten Island

    Sunday, September 14 2014 6:43 PM EDT2014-09-14 22:43:09 GMT
    Two jet skiers stranded since Saturday night were rescued from small islands off of Staten Island Sunday morning, police sources said. The FDNY Marine division discovered the first jet skier on the West Bank Lighthouse island while patrolling the area after 8 a.m. Sunday, and took him to Staten Island University Hospital North. His friend, a man in his 40s, was also saved.
    Two jet skiers stranded since Saturday night were rescued from small islands off of Staten Island Sunday morning, police sources said. The FDNY Marine division discovered the first jet skier on the West Bank Lighthouse island while patrolling the area after 8 a.m. Sunday, and took him to Staten Island University Hospital North. His friend, a man in his 40s, was also saved.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • M-1 rail project alters DDOT bus route

    M-1 rail project alters DDOT bus route

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:45 AM EDT2014-09-15 09:45:17 GMT
    Important information concerning the M-1 Rail Project's effect on an important D-Dot bus route. D-Dot route number 53 along Woodward Avenue has been re-routed to Cass Avenue. It will not be available on Woodward between Adams and Mack.
    Important information concerning the M-1 Rail Project's effect on an important D-Dot bus route. D-Dot route number 53 along Woodward Avenue has been re-routed to Cass Avenue. It will not be available on Woodward between Adams and Mack.
  • Family believes missing man shot, abducted

    Family believes missing man shot, abducted

    Sunday, September 14 2014 11:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 03:50:53 GMT
    The family of a 20 year old man says he was shot in Detroit and now he's missing. The family of Mike Bryson made an emotional plea Sunday, asking the public for help to find him.
    The family of a 20 year old man says he was shot in Detroit and now he's missing. The family of Mike Bryson made an emotional plea Sunday, asking the public for help to find him.
  • Police: 7-year-old girl shot while playing outside

    Police: 7-year-old girl shot while playing outside

    Sunday, September 14 2014 11:19 PM EDT2014-09-15 03:19:22 GMT
    Detroit Police are investigating a shooting Sunday that left a 7-year-old girl in critical condition.
    Detroit Police are investigating a shooting Sunday that left a 7-year-old girl in critical condition.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices