Regina firefighters are used to looking out for each other in a dangerous job, but for the past six months, they have rallied behind one of their own as he fights cancer.
Ever since he joined Regina Fire & Protective Services two years ago, Tanner Brotzel has loved getting up to go to work in the morning. Last December, everything changed when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.
“Everybody was kind of in shock. It’s not something you expect to hear and it was kind of tough for me to have to tell them too,” he said.
Brotzel says he was overwhelmed by the support in a time when he had no idea what would happen next.
“You never expect this to happen to you then all of a sudden, you’re kind of facing the unknown. You don’t know how long you’re going to be off work or if you’ll have to go on long-term disability,” he said.
Brotzel’s friends in the fire department quickly rallied to help him in a big way so he wouldn’t have to worry about money.
Brian Seidlik is the president of the Regina Professional Fire Fighters Association. He points out that after just two years, it’s hard to build up enough sick days and vacation time to deal with a long term illness.
“Guys just volunteered to cover his shifts while he was battling cancer,” he said.
Seidlik says sometimes people will talk about how the younger generation doesn’t do anything, but he says it was the younger fire fighters who really started this effort.
“Here’s a perfect example of our younger generation stepping up to the plate and taking care of one of their own,” he said.
As his fellow firefighters filled his shifts, Brotzel says he was able to focus on his health instead of worrying about his financial situation.
“It’s meant everything to me and there’s probably no way I’ll ever be able to make it up to all of them,” Brotzel commented. “They had my back and I hope they know I have their back any time they need me as well. That’s kind of how it works with our job and that’s what makes it so special.”
Brotzel says his cancer treatments have been going well so far but he will have to go through one more round of radiation in August. He is still looking forward to getting back to work his dream job as soon as he possibly can.