Mesa firefighter battling rare cancer contracted on job, raising awareness

Oct 6, 2020, 4:45 AM | Updated: 2:47 pm
(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)...
(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)
(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – For the past 13 years, Trevor Madrid has fought fires in the city of Mesa. Now he’s been taken off a firetruck to fight for his life.

In March 2019, Madrid was 33 years old when diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer called synovial sarcoma. Since, he has worked to find the best possible course of action to fight such a rare cancer that only one to three people out of 1 million are said to contract.

“My treatment plan has been super crazy,” Madrid told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “There are days that my treatment plans change multiple times in one day.”

On Monday, he started his first round of chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic followed by a round of radiation at Scottsdale-based Vincere Cancer Center.

The cancer center has dedicated its time and resources to helping screen Valley firefighters for cancer free of charge in hopes of preventing cancer in the fire service by catching it early.

“I’ve been on the job going on 13 years and I absolutely love it besides the unfortunate part of getting cancer,” Madrid said with a smile, as he described how he was diagnosed.

Playing with his daughter on the couch one day, she kicked him in his side.

Curled over in pain, Madrid was shocked at how hard she kicked him and the pain it caused. After several days of the prolonged pain, his pregnant wife encouraged him to go get checked out.

That’s when a CT scan showed a mass inside his abdomen. He was immediately transferred to get a biopsy.

“Everything was just unraveling from there – before we even got the results, the doctor told me it’s either lymphoma, testicular cancer or a sarcoma,” Madrid said.

At that point, that’s when Madrid and his wife accepted the reality of how prevalent cancer is in the fire service.

Following his diagnosis with synovial sarcoma, Madrid was recommended to find a specialized team. That’s when Madrid was connected with Dr. Vershalee Shukla at Vincere Cancer Center.

“She changed the course of my life and got me connected with who I needed, she’s just an amazing person,” Madrid said.

Following several rounds of both chemotherapy and radiation in the Valley, the 35-year-old has two surgeries planned in December with a specialist in New York. The plan is to remove the remainder of the sarcoma.

In the meantime, Madrid has committed to staying positive for his family with a wife and two young children. He is also dedicated to bringing awareness to cancer in the fire service.

“I’ve been putting myself out there a lot on TikTok, I have close to 150,000 followers on there – just trying to bring awareness of firefighters having cancer,” He said. “My biggest thing is to be positive going through this.”

The city of Mesa has approved Trevor Madrid’s worker’s compensation claim, deeming his cancer a direct result from his work environment.

In addition, the East Valley Fire Fighter Charities has created a GoFundMe page to support his travel expenses to New York and to support his family during this time.

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Mesa firefighter battling rare cancer contracted on job, raising awareness