The Fighting 126: Jason Bates

PLAIN TWP, Ohio (WCMH) —  Roughly 126 firefighters in the city of Columbus alone have been diagnosed with cancer, but the problem expands past the Cap City’s limits.

Jason Bates is a firefighter with the Plain Township Fire Department in New Albany, and can testify first-hand that the battle with skin cancer is common among firefighters.

“We’ve had three guys at our station alone in the past few years who have been diagnosed with melanoma,” he said.

Bates  was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 32 in 2014.

“I had a spot about the size of the quarter show up,” Bates said. “It kept getting darker. [I] decided to get it checked, got a phone all from the doctor two days after he cut it off.”

The doctor told Bates he needed to come back immediately.

“The spot was about the size of a quarter. The section he cut out was a football shape about nine inches from my shoulder. They took out quite a bit of skin,” Bates explained.

Near the shoulder is a common area for skin cancer to show up for firefighters, along with the face and neck areas.

The  year after his diagnosis, Bates and his wife started a family.

“She is two now. She made my day this morning because she gave me a hug,” he said, speaking about his oldest daughter. His second daughter is just three months old. He said the battle with skin cancer has been scary for the whole family.

Luckily, Bates says he is doing well for now.

“I had my check up last week,” he said. “Good for now.”

Governor John Kasich signed the “Cancer Bill 27” earlier this year. It recognizes that cancer in firefighters is a work related illness. This enables the firefighters to get compensation for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.

During the month of February, NBC4 will take a close look at who this new law affects and what is being done to protect the men and women who answer the call of duty.

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