Firefighter Fighting Cancer Through Therapy

May 31, 2018


My name is Stephen Hill and I have worked for Richardson Fire Department for just shy of 19 years. I was diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome) in February of 2014, for which I received an unrelated bone marrow transplant. Secondary to having a suppressed immune system, I developed sinus cancer the following year. I have tried going back to work twice, coming back off in July of 2017 due to having pneumonia. I haven't managed to get back to work since then.

One of the biggest problems impeding me from returning to work now is skin problems caused by Graft Versus Host disease. GVH is secondary to receiving a bone marrow transplant and is a condition where the donor's cells recognize my own body as foreign and attack them. In my case, this has caused my skin to significantly tighten, becoming painful and losing a large range of motion. Obviously, physical fitness and capability is foundational to being a firefighter. So, my doctor recommended that I pursue physical therapy.

Firefighter cancer therapyMy ReVital Experience

My experience at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation has been nothing short of stellar. My therapist is very knowledgeable and proficient in her treatment administration. My journey through this disease has been slow, difficult improvements for the most part, but, over the course at Baylor Scott & White Rehab, I have happily seen a great increase in my mobility. I have every belief that this improvement will continue. Among my biggest mobility problems have been my neck rotation and reaching my arms over my head, and I have had appreciable improvement in both.

For fear of sounding dramatic, firefighting is very much a life and death job, its physical demands should not to be taken lightly. I was very blessed to be in good physical condition for the majority of my career, before getting sick, and I have every intention and desire in the world to return to a functional fitness level. If, and when that happens, I feel emboldened to say that my treatment at Baylor Scott & White Rehabilitation will have had a very influential part of my return.

The Statistics

Firefighter cancer therapyGod forbid any of my fellow firefighters have to go through similar trials, but if they are in need of physical therapy to help in their healing, I would gladly recommend Baylor Scott & White Rehab. Depressing as the statistics are, most studies put around 70% of firefighters receiving some kind of cancer diagnosis in their careers. So, this is obviously a gigantic problem in our industry. That being said, I'm just glad there are resources such as Baylor Rehabilitation to help along in the difficult healing process.


Written By: Stephen Hill

How Can a ReVital Therapist Help?

Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists are specialized in rehabilitation for patients at any stage of the cancer diagnosis including:

  • Pre-treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation)
  • During treatment
  • Immediately after treatment
  • Years after treatment
About Stephen's Therapy

Stephen Hill was initially seen at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation for cancer related therapy on December 12, 2017. Mr. Hill's chief complaints were limitations of his arm range of motion causing pain and difficulty with bathing, dressing and household chores such as putting away the dishes, limited ability to turn his neck to look side to side causing him to turn his whole body while driving, and weakness in his arms and legs preventing him from holding or lifting heavy objects overhead effecting his ability to return to work. Mr. Hill's scored in the 60-64 year old category for endurance (2 decades greater than his actual age of 40).

After 1 month of treatment Mr. Hill reported 60% improvement in his ability to turn his head side to side with driving. He reported a 55% improvement with reaching overhead, allowing him independence in dressing, bathing, and house hold activities with decreased pain and difficulty as well as improved endurance allowing him to walk more and enjoy playing with his children. His goal is to return to work by August of 2018.



For more information about Cancer Rehabilitation or to schedule an appointment, call 888.722.9567. You can also fill out our online Request An Appointment form.