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CAN'T STOP FIGHTING

Michael Scott checks a piece of equipment at the Rock Hill Fire Department in this file photo. Scott undergoes chemotherapy every other week but still performs his firefighting duties.

Details on 3B
Michael Scott checks a piece of equipment at the Rock Hill Fire Department in this file photo. Scott undergoes chemotherapy every other week but still performs his firefighting duties. Details on 3B

The first thing you notice about Mike Scott is he's 6 feet, 1 inch tall, shoulders wide as a barn door.

No wonder he's been nicknamed "Big" forever. He graduated high school in 1992 at 298 pounds, and if he's smaller now that's only by the weight of his shadow.

"I've been big since I was little," Scott said.

Then you notice the scar on his neck, and he says, like he's telling you what time it is, "That's where they cut the cancer out of me a few months ago."

Then he turns over his forearm, and it's bruised because that's where the IV goes in every other Wednesday to pump the poison of chemotherapy that he hopes will take the lymphoma out of his neck and abdomen forever.

He says all this while working as a firefighter.

He doesn't say he was named Rock Hill's firefighter of the year last year before he was diagnosed with cancer, but his co-workers say so. You work with a guy who asks for nothing but loyalty, you put your faith in him inside burning buildings, and you are proud of him.

"A guy who I could count on before he got sick, and I guy I can count on today," said Steve Rogers, the battalion chief for "C" shift and a no-nonsense guy if there ever was one.

Scott, married with two young children, had that cancer cut out May 18.

He started chemotherapy June 6. During that time, Scott found out how well regarded he is by his peers in the department. Three guys from his shift organized a ham dinner that raised thousands for Scott to use to pay the insurance co-pays and other expenses that fighting cancer requires.

"It's humbling to think about the support," Scott said.

Helping is normal character at the fire department. Firefighters, every day, run headlong into a crisis. They only stop when the trouble is over.

That love of job gets into the blood and it's why Scott isn't on his couch feeling sorry for himself. On Thursday, while on his way home from North Carolina on a day off, he saw a roadblock and firetrucks near Clover. Soon, he was pulling hose for the volunteers working the fire.

"I say this is nothing but a bad cold, I just have to take my medi-cine until February," Scott said.

Scott was cleared by a doctor to come back to work, department Chief Mike Blackmon said. By late July, the driver/engineer for Ladder 5 at the Springdale Road station was on the job again.

The first day back, there was a house fire on Rose Street. There was Mike Scott, fighting cancer, helping.

"I wanted to be a firefighter from the time I was old enough to say fire truck," Scott said. "That's not going to change."

Scott isn't blind to cancer, though. He stopped working his second job as an emergency medical technician for the county's ambulance service. Rather than working a 24-hour fire shift, then following it up during his 48 hours off with two 12-hour shifts on the ambulance, he's spending more time with his family.

For a few days after chemo, Scott is too sick and tired to work. Rogers and other management know in advance so they have somebody else to fill in the shifts. Then Scott feels better, and the guy battling cancer, but who remains "Big," again works a 24-hour shift.

BENEFIT SET

A benefit disc golf tournament for Rock Hill firefighter Mike Scott is Sept. 8 at the Boyd Hill course.

To register or for more information, call 324-9133.

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