Posts Tagged firefighter overcomes health obstacles

Of interest … a Northbrook firefighter (more)

Excerpts from the

Mount Prospect resident and Northbrook Firefighter Steve De Luca plans to run a half-marathon in July, do the Ironman Wisconsin in September and run the Chicago Marathon in October, his 25th.

However, an even larger milestone awaits him in 2017. De Luca hopes to mark his 16th year of being cancer-free, after battling stage 3 colon cancer in 2001.

Beating cancer isn’t the only health hazard De Luca has overcome. Just over 20 years ago, surgeons removed an acoustic neuroma from his head. It was a benign tumor, but he was left with a near total hearing loss in his left ear, and now his hearing is deteriorating in his right ear.

De Luca worried his hearing challenges would derail his fire career — he has been a firefighter apparatus engineer for 26 years. But specialized hearing aids, now in both ears, have allowed him to continue working. The aids localize sound and enable him to recognize the dispatch tones when they go off.

Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres said he thinks De Luca is the only one of his nearly 100-member personnel to complete his service while wearing double hearing aids.

Between these two health issues, De Luca has become something of an ambassador for health and wellness, his chief says. De Luca is a big proponent of monitors that gauge the air quality of toxic environments that firefighters often face.

Although each firefighter use breathing apparatus, Torres said, the firefighters often have to go in afterward during the cleanup stages and face exposure to toxins and other poisonous gases.

Earlier this year, Torres tapped De Luca to join Northbrook’s health and wellness committee. He thought De Luca would bring a unique perspective, given his own health experiences.

“He is admired by his fellow firefighters for participating in these endurance events,” Torres said. “But he is motivational as well. He does these events, not as much for himself, but for those currently suffering from cancer.”

thanks Dan

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Of interest … a Northbrook firefighter

Excerpts from

Steve Deluca, a Northbrook firefighter for 26 years,  he has seen his share of tragedy and triumph.

“We all understand how fragile life is, especially being in this job,” he says.   “I’ve seen life change for people in a snap.”

It didn’t occur it would happen to him until 1997.

“We were at a BBQ and all of a sudden I started getting off balance and dizziness. I thought maybe it was vertigo.”

It wasn’t vertigo. It was a brain tumor which robbed him of the majority of hearing in his left ear. Surgeons removed the benign tumor but the damage to his hearing was done.  A hearing aid got him back to work but five years later at 33 years old, Steve suffered another blow during a colonoscopy when doctors discovered two tumors.

Steve had Stage III advanced colon cancer which doctors warned him carried a high probability of reoccurrence.

“You get so much dictated to you over all this stuff.  You got to do this and do this and you’re so sick all the time. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon and I didn’t really run that much at all.  It seemed like a good idea.”

Such a good idea that he signed up again the year after and the year after that and then races in other cities and when he hit five years cancer free he signed up for the Ironman. Steve still runs marathons every year and works for the fire department, all the while expanding his family.

He says he’s in the best shape of his life.  He now wears two hearing aids as the hearing in his right ear is also deteriorating.  But with modern technology his hearing aids are clearer than ever.

After the marathon this weekend, his focus turns to Ironman 2017 marking 15 years cancer free.

Steve considers himself one of the lucky ones.

“ I’m very blessed with everything that’s happened,” he says. “I look back at so many things where the road could have gone a different way and now it’s like, I’m married. I have four kids. They’re all healthy.  I’ve very blessed. God’s been very generous.”

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