Detroit firefighter loses life after short battle with cancer

A Detroit firefighter has lost his life to cancer only weeks after receiving his diagnosis.

Detroit firefighters are remembering and mourning the loss of Derek Stone, a veteran firefighter who was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer in late January. He was 50 years old.

It's unclear if Stone's cancer was work-related, but no one there would be surprised if it was. Studies have concluded firefighters are at a higher risk for cancer - and it's the biggest killer of them.

"In the early 19th and 20th century, guys would go into homes they were exposed to natural products that had been burning - natural cottons, natural wools, natural wood. So they would give off natural by-products," retired firefighter Jason Ridgeway said. "Now everything is synthetic, so these things when they burn they give off byproducts that nobody even knows what type of particulates we're breathing in, what's getting into our skin."

Stone is survived by his wife and two children, who are now without healthcare -- one of the concessions made during Detroit's bankruptcy. His colleagues are hoping their efforts will help them get through one of the darkest moments of their lives. 

"I don't have the answers, I just know that guys who give their lives put up their lives as collateral for other people's lives," Ridgeway said. "They should just be taken care of.

"We're just trying to pull up the slack from where things have been taken away. we take care of our own."

If you want to help them out, you can drop off a donation at Engine 55 at Joy Road right off the Southfield Freeway on the westbound side of the road.

A host of other fellow firefighters attended a fundraiser for Stone's family Tuesday.

There is also a GoFundMe account set up online to help the family. CLICK HERE.

"When you see a bunch of heroic grown men tearing up about another man, you just know what kind of person he was," said Ridgeway.

Ridgeway worked with Stone at Engine 55 on the city's west side.

"When they closed Engine 49, Jason Stone came over and I looked at us like the Golden State Warriors," Ridgeway said. "One of the best teams to me, on the west side of the whole city. And then when he came over it was like Kevin Durant came. Fearless, hard-working and demanded that of everyone that rode with him on that rig - drivers, bosses, everybody."

"Nobody who speaks about him, is going to say anything different that he was one of our brightest stars," said fellow firefighter Sivad Johnson. "He was one of our true soldiers in the field."