The Fighting 126: Remembering Mike Palumbo

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 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s