PEMBROKE PINES – For nearly 30 years, Davie Fire Rescue Captain Richard Hudson has been on the front lines putting out the flames, now his battle is with cancer, and it’s believed to have come from toxins in the fires he helped to erase.
“It’s the fuel, it’s the equipment, it’s the petroleum products that burn,” said Gina Hudson, his wife and a former Miramar firefighter.
Hudson was diagnosed 3 years ago, he thought he had won, but it came back this past September, just 6 months short of his retirement.
“He really wanted to get over it when retirement came around so he could get out on his own,” she said.
It didn’t go as he had hoped, but last Monday, Hudson underwent a bone marrow transplant from his daughter.
“They inserted a catheter into my neck and that’s how they extracted the bone marrow,” Holly Hudson described the procedure.
To cheer and encourage her husband, Gina, who has been married to Richard for 21 years, gathered family, friends and colleagues to wish him a happy retirement outside her window at Memorial Hospital West. Somehow, she managed to keep her surprise.
“I love you all, thank you, I appreciate you,” said Captain Hudson, emotional as he said goodbye over the radio.
His parents, Bill and Diane Hudson, couldn’t be more proud of their son.
“Since he was a little boy he wanted to be a little boy, one of the first Christmas presents we bought him was a little fire truck,” said Diane.
There are many other firefighters like Captain Hudson who was diagnosed with cancer because of his work. That’s part of the reason he worked to educate and train firefighters to take precautions.
According to the International Association of Firefighters, occupational cancer is the leading cause of death for firefighters in the line of duty.
“Just pray this bone marrow takes it, we’re taking it one day at a time, as mom says, we’re not out of the woods yet,” her daughter added.
Wednesday was Hudson’s last day, but those whose lives he touched promise to stand by him.
“Richie, we love you, you’ve made an impact in all of our careers and we are here to support you in your fight and recovery from cancer,” Davie Fire Rescue Asst. Fire chief Daniel Moran said.
Captain Hudson and his family hope their story will encourage others to apply to become bone marrow donors, they say anyone can register; can save a life.