Paul Jackson still remembers the moment he learned his mother was diagnosed with breast and bone cancer.
He felt sick.
“My mom was always there for me. She is perfect, loving, everything a mom should be,” said Jackson, an Arlington firefighter. “As a man, you want to protect your mom.”
Jackson realized he could not protect his mother from cancer. But he could find a way to help the woman who always cared for him.
With Jackson’s help, the Arlington Professional Firefighters Charitable Fund is selling t-shirts to support people battling the debilitating disease and raise awareness.
The organization also made a financial contribution to Jackson’s mother, Barbara Edenburn, who lives in Edmond, Okla., to help pay for medical treatments.
Jackson, a firefighter at Station 3, first approached the organization a couple months ago to seek aid for his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer six months ago.
The Arlington Professional Firefighters — which began the fund as a way to help firefighters and their families affected by cancer — jumped aboard.
The issue is important to firefighters, who face increased risk of cancer due to exposure from contaminants in the line of duty, said Scott Hofstrom, the organization’s secretary and treasurer.
“Firefighters are a family,” Hofstrom said. “We take care of each other.”
Jackson’s story also touched his fellow firefighters.
Jackson’s biological mother left when he was just 10 years old, and Edenburn and her husband, Reggie, who lived nearby, took him and his little brother in.
First, the couple invited the boys over to hang out at their house. Soon, they were spending every Thanksgiving, Christmas, high school graduation and college graduation together.
“We became a family,” Jackson said. “They have been here through it all and taught us a tremendous amount.”
When Jackson presented his mother with a check from the Arlington Professional Firefighters, she cried.
Edenburn has now undergone one round of chemotherapy and still faces a double mastectomy, but the family hopes for a full recovery.
To raise money for others affected by cancer, the firefighters are selling $25 shirts, designed by Jackson, who dabbles in photography and design in his spare time.
Shirts will be available for purchase online.
“For me, this started because of what my family was going through,” Jackson said. “But it’s bigger than that. It’s about the entire firefighter family and helping all of us fight cancer.”
You can order the shirts by going to: local1329.org.