MIAMI COUNTY — The Piqua Firefighters Union Local 252 is working in collaboration with the Troy Firefighters Union Local 1638, Atlantis Sportswear, Kettering Health Network and retired Piqua Fire Assistant Chief Jeff Meckstroth and his wife Rhonda Meckstroth, who is administrative specialist for the Piqua Fire Department, on a fundraising project for lung cancer research with the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. and beginning Nov. 1, firefighters will be proudly wearing their Fire Fighting For A Cure T-Shirts on and off duty. The Lung Cancer Awareness t-shirt design and sales are coordinated with Atlantis Sportswear, Gail Reardon and her son Kyle Reardon. Promotion and sales of the Fire Fighting For A Cure t-shirt to the public began in mid-October with a friendly competition between Piqua and Troy Firefighters on which city could sell the most t-shirts. To date, there have been 366 t-shirts sold, and proceeds from the sale will directly fund ALK specific lung cancer research, the rare genetic form of lung cancer that Jeff Meckstroth was diagnosed with in late 2015.
The goal of the campaign is to exceed 500 t-shirts sold, and sales will end Nov. 10. A social media campaign has also been launched asking the public to take a selfie in their t-shirt and tag the Piqua Firefighters Facebook page.
The Piqua Firefighters Lung Cancer Awareness Research project is also looking for corporate donors, interested in a year end charitable deduction, to match any funds they raise from the sale of the t-shirts.
The Meckstroth family also coordinated a “free” lung cancer screening for all Piqua and Troy Firefighters through their connection and local treatment with the Kettering Health Cancer Center in Troy.
A simple, non-productive cough, discussed during a routine annual physical led to a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis that had metastasized from the lungs to the lymph system, bones and eventually the brain. As a non-smoker, Meckstroth was not aware that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and that 65 percent of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, claiming more lives than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer combined, and it is the leading cancer killer of women since 1987. Only 19 percent of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive five years.
The Meckstroths’ traveled to Boston all of 2018 to access a clinical trial treatment that is now FDA approved. This precision medicine is an oral daily tablet manufactured by Pfizer that has been effective in stabilizing Jeff’s lung cancer. Jeff acknowledges that “advancements in research and the dedication of my wife to educate and advocate for my care is the only reason I am still alive.” Sadly, to date there is no cure for lung cancer and eventually the lung cancer will learn to mutate and grow; this is the third treatment therapy for Meckstroth. “Lung cancer is in desperate need for public education and funding for research, only 6 percent of federal cancer funding is allocated for lung cancer. Because the general public is grossly uneducated about the realities of lung cancer today, they still believe that lung cancer is a result of personal choice to use tobacco, and this directly impacts empathy and funding for research,” said Rhonda.
To order a t-shirt, visit firefightingforacure.itemorder.com/sale.