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Lieutenant Gabriel Thibert, a Montreal firefighter for 17 years, was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma in January. This rare form of brain cancer typically occurs in men and grows quickly. Thibert underwent surgery following his diagnosis and is now facing a challenging road ahead. His friend and colleagues are rallying to raise funds for research at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and for a special treatment called ‘Tumours Treating Fields’ (TTF) that could potentially extend Thibert’s life. However, the treatment comes with a hefty price tag of $27,000 per month, making it out of reach for a firefighter.

The campaign to raise funds for research and treatment for Thibert is also aimed at raising awareness for brain cancer and the increased risk faced by firefighters in their line of work. Though it’s unclear whether Thibert’s cancer is directly related to his job, statistics from the federal government show that firefighters are 14 percent more likely than the general public to die from cancer. This has prompted efforts from both the union and the Montreal fire department to address the issue and improve conditions for firefighters. Thibert is set to begin chemotherapy in the coming weeks as he continues his fight against the disease.

Dr. Rhian Touyzgl, executive director and chief scientific officer at the RI-MUHC, explains that researchers are still unsure of what causes glioblastoma. The disease typically has a poor prognosis, with patients often having a lifespan of 12 to 18 months after diagnosis. Thibert’s colleagues, led by friend Alexandre Kheir, are determined to support him in his battle against cancer. Kheir emphasizes the importance of raising funds for both research and treatment, highlighting the challenges faced by firefighters in accessing expensive medical care.

The ‘Tumours Treating Fields’ (TTF) treatment being considered for Thibert involves exposing tumour cells to alternating electric fields to inhibit their growth and spread. While the therapy shows promise, its high cost poses a significant barrier for Thibert and his family. The campaign to raise funds not only aims to support Thibert in his treatment but also to shed light on the risks faced by firefighters in developing cancer. Thibert’s story serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by first responders and the importance of addressing the health challenges they face in the line of duty.

As Thibert prepares for chemotherapy, his colleagues continue to advocate for better support and resources for firefighters dealing with cancer. The Montreal fire department and the union are working together to address the issue and improve conditions for firefighters. With the support of his community and loved ones, Thibert remains hopeful and determined to overcome the challenges ahead. His battle with cancer serves as a testament to the resilience and courage displayed by firefighters every day as they put their lives on the line to protect others. Through awareness, research, and support, Thibert and his colleagues hope to make a difference in the fight against cancer in the firefighting community.

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