24/7/ Emergency Cleanup

Wescott Fire Chief retires; now takes on toughest battle of his life

Few words elicit fear and trepidation into one’s soul more than the six-letter, two-syllable one of cancer.

“You never give up; you got to keep fighting.”

About the only thing to make a cancer diagnosis worse is to add the word pancreatic.

“[Doctors] told me to go home and get my personal affairs in order. They don’t know me and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s okay. I am going to find somebody else, because I am going to fight this.’”

Those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are given the “months to live” speech. General life expectancy is just five to eight months. A scant 20 percent will make the one-year anniversary of their diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is so aggressive less than five percent of sufferers make it to the five-year mark.

The quotes above are from Jeff Edwards, one-time Army medic and Green Beret, former chief of Donald Wescott’s fire department and longtime friend of DRI. Edwards was told he had pancreatic cancer in June of 2009, just after he finished a tour of Iraq.

“When I went home, within 72-hours of my arrival, my abdomen was all distended and bloated. I was retaining fluid, which promoted an emergency room visit,” Edwards told Colorado Springs TV station KRDO. “It wasn’t until they went in with a scope, within 10 seconds, the (doctor) went in and my whole pancreas was white and my abdominal wall had small two millimeter nodules coating my pelvis toward my lungs.”

Edwards took over the Donald Westcott fire department in the winter of ’05, taking over for 73-year-old Bill Sheldon, the department’s 15-year veteran of the chief’s chair.

At the time, Edwards said this to the Colorado Springs Gazette: “Chief Sheldon was a good mentor, like a father figure to me. I guess I’m creating my own path.”

Using experimental drugs, a new diet and exercise regime and a positive mental attitude, Edwards is continuing to fight the cancer and survive. Truly, he is creating his own path.

At his recent retirement dinner, Edwards said, “all we can do is our best, what we’ve been trained to do, and do it our best. We cannot always control the outcome, so we must do our best.” Chief Edwards challenged his department personnel and long time friends, to live by that motto.

DRI is honored to know Jeff Edwards and call him a “friend.” He is an inspiration to each of us.