Utah Firefighter Who Served At Ground Zero Dies Of Cancer
SALT LAKE CITY — A dedicated Utah firefighter who served his community and his country passed away over the weekend. Chris Cage, 63, fought a quick, but courageous battle with cancer that likely stemmed from 9/11.
Cage worked as a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority for more than 30 years before he retired in 2016.
Fellow firefighters remember Cage’s great smile and easy laugh, but also his passion for the job.
“I loved working with that man,” said Captain Mike Greensides.
Greensides has only the best memories of his colleague and friend.
“He loved his job, absolutely he loved his job,” said Greensides. “He was dedicated to the craft, and he wanted to continue to serve and give as much as he could.”
Both men were on a team that was called to ground zero a few days after the 9/11 attacks.
“We were there on the pile for six days total, helping out with recovery aspects,” said Greensides.
Their team’s job was to sort through the jagged debris, searching for victims. But by then, it wasn’t a rescue mission, it was a recovery effort.
Just six weeks ago and 19 years after that mission, Cage found out he had cancer.
“He went into the emergency room with excruciating back pain, and at that point, they found out that he had a fractured vertebra, and then they looked further and they saw some other cancer throughout his thoracic area,” said Greensides. “It’s presumed right now that it possibly came from his exposure while responding to the World Trade Center collapse.”
If Cage’s medical issues stem from 9/11, he’s not alone. Other firefighters from Utah and nationwide have also struggled and given their lives.
“It’s kind of a big wake up call. There’s others on the task force that went back to 9/11 who have also come down with various cancers,” said Greensides.
Greensides himself is one of them.
Last year, he had his left kidney removed — along with a tumor — and was diagnosed with clear cell renal carcinoma.
He said the risks come with the territory, but men like Cage were willing to take them because they knew they were helping others.
“I feel the honor that I had the ability to go back and serve,” said Greensides.
Greensides said he feels lucky they caught his cancer in time and it didn’t spread.
His heart, and the hearts of all those at Unified Fire, goes out to Chris Cage’s family.
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