Salem firefighters rally around captain as he battles cancer
SALEM — The comrades of a longtime Salem firefighter are standing behind him as he embarks on the battle of his life.
Diagnosed with intestinal cancer several years ago, Salem Fire Capt. Steve McKenna has experienced a devastating series of setbacks over the course of his illness.
“It’s been a really rough road,” Assistant Fire Chief Paul Parisi said on Thursday.
A Salem native, McKenna was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer in 2009. After recovering from intensive surgery, where doctors removed sections of his duodenum, pancreas and stomach, the fire captain endured several rounds of chemotherapy.
Parisi said his longtime coworker, a married father of two young adults, has remained positive throughout the ordeal, and returned to the fire station after he recovered from his initial surgeries.
More recently, however, McKenna’s cancer has returned — first in his lungs and then to his liver — and McKenna has been on medical leave since this past February.
“The prognosis isn’t looking good,” Parisi said.
McKenna has worked for the Salem Fire Department since 2003. Before that, he served as a firefighter in Keene. Over the years, he has held active roles as firefighter, officer, N.H. Fire Academy instructor and member of FEMA MA-FF1.
A devoted firefighter who continued to commute to Salem after he and his wife had long moved into their dream home in Westmoreland, Parisi described his friend as someone who truly loves his firefighter brothers and sisters.
“We were talking on the phone the other day and something he said really struck me,” Parisi said. “He told me he felt like he’s never worked a day in his life, because he loves every moment spent at the fire station.”
The Salem Fire Department is selling T-shirts to assist the McKenna family with medical expenses.
The shirts are $20 each and can be purchased by contacting Phil MacCallum at 490-1118 or Chris Geras at 475-4680. Orders may also be sent via email to Fran Enos at Fenos43@gmail.com.
A celebration fundraiser honoring McKenna will take place Saturday, June 29, at the Radisson/Center of N.H. in Manchester from 6 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $20 each, and the evening will feature raffles, a cash bar and sales of T-shirts, helmet stickers, bumper stickers and wristbands. For more information, contact Ryan Gott at 540-6917.