29-Year Old Virginia Firefighter Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

Just weeks ago, a member of the Stuarts Draft Fire Department, Jonathan Smith, was diagnosed with stage-four pleural mesothelioma. According to the news source NBC 29, serving Virginia, Smith has been volunteering with the fire department for six years, securing a full-time paid position with Augusta County’s Company 10 on October of 2011. Smith is only 29 years old, which is uncharacteristically young for a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Doctors have declared Smith’s condition “aggressive,” and according to NBC 29 he has recently undergone his second chemotherapy treatment at Augusta Health. As recently as Fall of last year Smith was reported as having a clean bill of health. However, following a “nagging cough,” as well as loss of weight and strength, Smith’s health began to decline. His mother, Jackie May, told NBC 29 that Smith was “up under a truck and got ready to get up…and he was just so weak he couldn’t get up.” Shortly after the incident, Company 10 had firefighters undergo new testing and x-rays, leading to Smith’s diagnosis. Doctors believe Smith’s rare form of cancer stemmed from childhood exposure to asbestos, as reported by NBC 29. The news source interviewed family and friends who state Smith remains “very upbeat.” His mother stated, “We’re going to beat it, and he’s got the family support.” NBC 29 also reported that Smith has the support of friends and community as well. Augusta Fire and Rescue Chief Carson Holloway was quoted on the matter, claiming, “the department’s come together, the churches are coming together. The sheriff’s department up here is going to put on a golf tournament.” In addition, Smith’s mother stated that fellow firefighters have “all worked together and given up vacation so that he can get paid for another month, which means his insurance will run for another month.” Added assistance from the community has come in the form of a dinner and silent auction where Stuarts Draft will raise funds in an attempt to offset Smith’s rising medical costs. Jonathan Smith is married with a two-month old baby girl, Jillian Grace, as well as stepfather to three children from his wife’s previous marriage. In addition to be a volunteer firefighter for six years, Smith was also an Eagle Scout, where he later volunteered with his troop. Reference:
  • NBC 29 Staff Writer. (March 16, 2012). “Community Steps Up in Firefighter’s Fight Against Cancer.” Retrieved on March 21, 2012, from NBC 29.
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