Retired firefighters help one of their own during his battle with cancer

Albuquerque News

Paul Gonzales was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer as well as COVID-19 late last year.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He was a firefighter in Albuquerque for more than two decades, and at the end of last year, he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Now, his fellow firefighters are stepping up to help him in his time of need.

Dozens of people, worked hard on Saturday morning sprucing up Paul Gonzales’ home. Gonzales was diagnosed in December with Stage IV cancer. On top of that, he also tested positive for coronavirus. “We thought we were making it out of 2020 unscathed, there was a train at the end of the tunnel coming towards us,” said Sophie Gonzales, Paul’s wife.

While Gonzales was in the hospital, his mother โ€“ who he’d been taking care of for nine years โ€“ died. “We had to isolate for 14 days,” said Sophie. “We weren’t able to attend the funeral.”

Paul has had a tracheotomy and over the past few weeks, he’s been going through chemo and radiation. He says he’s feeling a little bit better after all of that, but the diagnosis has taken its toll. Completing simple chores around the house has become extremely difficult.

That’s why a group of firefighters, both retired and active duty, spent their Saturday helping him clean up his home by giving it a fresh coat of paint and laying gravel in the driveway. “We’re just getting everything up, to improve the quality of life for Paul and his family,” said Kerry Horton, the President of the Albuquerque Fire Department Retiree’s Association.

The program was started by the Retiree’s Association 18 years ago. They also took turns taking Gonzales to his treatments because his wife had to go back to work.

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