WILLOWICK, OH (WCMH) — We continue to remember the fallen firefighter and namesake for Ohio’s firefighter cancer bill.
Mike Palumbo was diagnosed with occupational brain cancer two years ago and passed away two weeks ago.
When Palumbo found out he had cancer, he turned his tragedy into a teaching moment about the dangerous toxins fire fighters are exposed to.
This past January the governor signed Senate Bill 27 into law which is also known as the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr Act. It provides workers compensation benefits to firefighters diagnosed with certain cancers.
At the age of 49, Mike Palumbo passed away, but his legacy lives on.
There are so many things you could say about Palumbo. “Strength, courage, devotion to family, friends,” said friend and firefighter Ron Zak.
Many called him a leader. “Michael was always that person to give you a shot and then reel you back in and say let me show you how it’s done.. in the fire service and in life,” said Bill Mastrioanni.
But sometimes, there are no words.
In the community where they grew up, Captain Ron Zak and Mike Palumbo were hired together. “We went to paramedic school together, fire school, we were in each other’s wedding…Mike was.. More of a brother.” Much like brothers, they were there for each other. Especially when Mike was diagnosed with occupational brain cancer. “When we would lift him from the bed to the chair or the wheelchair he would always say I’m sorry. Because he didn’t want us to hurt our backs.”
Mike walked every chance he could. “He lost feeling in one side. He continued to fight and walk. Just because the doctors told him to stay healthy. Just dragging his leg, trying to walk as far as he could go because he wanted to live for his family,” said Zak.
NBC4 talked with Mike Palumbo last December when the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act passed the House. He told us then that he was never giving up. “I fight every day for so many people, mostly my family and my kids, because I plan on being here.”
Because of his courage, friends say firefighters with cancer in Ohio, now have a fighting chance. “Even through the chemo and feeling sick and the pain from the surgeries he never said why me?”
In the fire service his legacy will live on.” Michael was a firefighter’s firefighter..but I’m going to miss the person. I’m going to miss Michael,” said Mastrioanni.
Friday, June 2 from 1pm to 4pm and 5pm to 8pm
Monreal Funeral Home
35400 Curtis Blvd
Eastlake Ohio 44095
Mass of Christian Burial
Saturday June 3 at 1pm
Immaculate Conception Church
37932 Euclid Ave
Willoughby Ohio 44094
Burial following mass at
All Souls Cemetery
10366 Chardon Rd.
Chardon Ohio 44024