9/11 Firefighter fights cancer - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

9/11 Firefighter fights cancer

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- 11 years ago, Bobbie Jo Lawrence and the Oregon Disaster Medical Team went to New York City to help treat the firefighters and first responders working at Ground Zero.

Lawrence has been a firefighter and paramedic for almost 20 years, deploying once a year to disaster areas. Treating those helping at 9/11 was a surreal experience she will never forget. "If they needed stitches, if they needed breathing treatments, if they had foreign bodies in their eye, they wanted to be treated and sent right back out to the pile," said Lawrence of her two week stay in the city.

Six years later, Lawrence found a lump in her breast. And then a month later, she learned her cancer had spread. "It was advanced, stage four, meaning it had already gone into my lymph nodes.'

For five grueling years, the Walla Walla mother of seven has been going to chemotherapy and radiation treatments and testing. Lawrence had genetic testing done and it shows she is not predisposed to cancer. She says after returning from NYC, she had pneumonia for about a year. She says when she got the diagnosis, her whole family just knew what it was from.

"Not only did 9/11 take the lives of over 3,000 people in 2001, but since then, many firefighters, not just me, many firefighters continued to give their lives through cancer, through lung disease," Lawrence said.

Lawrence is currently trying considering treatment that may add six months to her life. But she says if she doesn't do it she won't feel like she gave up. "I have fought, I have fought very hard," Lawrence said.

"I never thought that ten years down the road, my life would be changed because of it. and I feel now my family, is going to lose out. I probably won't be here when my daughter gets married, or see any grandchildren, and I think its important to remember that what happened that day wasn't just that day." she said.

Lawrence is also worried about her family's financial future. They family has accumulated thousands of dollars in medical bills and she has already begun planning a funeral which she says can cost ten thousand dollars.

Bobbie Jo Lawrence has set up an account in her name at HAPO Community Credit Union. If you're interested in donating money, click here.