Industrial Fire World - Blog - Chevron fire captain struggles with cancer diagnosis

Chevron fire captain struggles with cancer diagnosis

Hearing the words, “You have cancer,” once in your life is terrible enough. Robert Taylor, captain with the Chevron El Segundo ERT, has heard it twice in the last eight years.

At the Chevron corporate fire school in April and May Robert’s wife Jill gave his colleagues a complete update on his progress via Skype. Robert normally serves as chief of operations for the three Chevron schools held annually at Brayton Fire Training Field.

Unfortunately Robert was too sick to participate. But by email he made it clear he intends to return to his fire school duties.

“If a miracle happens, I do plan to return to the corporate fire school in 2019, yet I know Tonnie (Hopson) and the guys are doing a great job of running things in my absence,” Robert writes.

Robert, featured in the Summer 2017 issue of Industrial Fire World, also plays a prominent role in an extended IFW video about storage tank firefighting posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2QsMozgLlE&t=1001s.

In 2010, Robert was diagnosed with colon cancer. After a year-long battle for his life, Robert remained in remission for five years and was declared officially cancer free in 2015. But in January this year Robert was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer.
 Robert and his future wife Jill Brunkhardt met with his oncologist and surgeon to determine how to treat this new cancer diagnosis. The plan was to shrink the tumor so it could be removed.

Unfortunately, the cancer had its own plans.

Robert’s first chemotherapy treatment lasted four days and hit him very hard. As he was recuperating he suffered another medical emergency that required an emergency appendectomy. This setback extended the gap between chemotherapy treatments from two to five weeks. 

He eventually made it through four round of chemotherapy before receiving devastating news. The tumor had doubled in size with cancer spreading to his liver and lymph nodes. His cancer was now graded as Stage 4 and incurable. With no further treatment available Robert was given six months to live.

Robert and Jill refused to accept that diagnosis. After consulting various cancer research organizations, the couple connected with the Integrated Cancer Centers of American in LaJolla, CA. An alternate treatment plan which attacks the tumors directly without compromising the immune systems was recommended. But because this is considered experimental, the anticipated medical costs of up to $100,000 are not covered by his insurance.

A crowdfunding effort at youcaring.com/roberttaylorandjillbrunkhardttaylor-1185746 has raised more than half that amount. Robert began the new treatments in mid-May, followed by further experimental treatments in Mexico. In early June Robert began a month long break from chemotherapy and radiation to allow his body time to recover.

“The goal is to shrink the main tumor to give me a chance at surgery to remove it,” Taylor said in an email. “This would buy me some more time, perhaps even a year.”

For updates on Robert’s progress, visit caringbridge.org/visit/roberttaylorcfd.
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