A volunteer NSW firefighter has revealed he’s been out fighting fires for almost a month after undergoing chemotherapy.
Darren Carter, a 42-year-old father of two in Oakdale, southwest of Sydney’s CBD, told Yahoo News Australia he discovered he had colorectal cancer in December 2018.
“I’ve been through two bouts of chemotherapy and radiation and I’m currently between cancer treatments,” Mr Carter said.
“We’ve discovered a few spots on my liver.”
Mr Carter said when he first received his cancer diagnosis he was understandably devastated, but has taken it in stride as he tries to get on with life.
“I could have been s*****y about it and gotten angry with the world but I just decided to deal with it,” he said. “I just have to go through it.”
‘You rely on adrenaline’
The NSW dad has been out fighting The Green Wattle bushfire which on Saturday merged with the Ruined Castle blaze to the north.
Both sit south of Katoomba and Mr Carter devotes his time to both the Macarthur and Southern Highlands districts.
Having an illness makes it “hard” to fight the fires at times but he manages to cope, he said.
“You just rely on adrenaline.”
That adrenaline has gotten him through about 20 days of firefighting.
Mr Carter was fighting the Colong Stock fire before it developed into the monster Green Wattle Creek blaze, and admits that crews are absolutely exhausted.
“It’s been flat out,” he said.
Six years with NSW Rural Fire Service
The 42-year-old has been volunteering with the NSW Rural Fire Service for six years and often stays on standby over Christmas in case he’s needed, although his Oakdale area “is usually quiet”.
“I often stay sober on Christmas Day in case I’m needed out on the truck,” he said.
“I’ve told the wife this year I’m taking it off. I’ve done no organising this year. By now I ordinarily have the Christmas lights up.
“I only have one day to do my shopping too – that’s on Christmas Eve.”
When asked why Mr Carter would battle illness and give up hours away from his family fighting horrific fires throughout the region he said it came down to a sense of duty.
“I’ll put my hand up and stay as long as it’s needed over the next few weeks. I have no major plans,” he said.
“It’s my community and I’m helping out mates. It’s also about being with the guys on the truck – you train with these guys and it’s like being bitten by a bug.
“You also care about the residents around here and you volunteer because you enjoy doing it.”
Mr Carter plans on taking time to spend with his wife Gail and daughters Nikki, 12, and Jamie, 11, over the coming days before returning to fight the fires.
“I’ll get back into it so the other guys can have a break too,” he said.
The dad will undergo surgery on his liver in February.
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