Brockton man, 9/11 firefighter in New York in palliative care for cancer

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BROCKTON – Looking back at 68 years of life, Michael Bishop has done just about everything.

He made a career in the New York City Fire Department. Bishop has been playing guitar since he was a teenager and received offers of recording contract. He was also an inventor and amateur archaeologist.

“I’ve had more than a busy life,” said Bishop, originally from Brooklyn, New York. “I don’t think I could change it for anything.”

He has lived in Brockton for 15 years and says the city reminds him of Long Island, New York. Bishop likes that Champions City has more space and that the pace is slower than in New York.

Brockton was where Bishop lived when diagnosed with prostate cancer and began palliative care treatment now that the disease has spread to his bones.

He said his cancer developed following exposure to dust and debris from September 11, 2001, at the former World Trade Center site in New York City.

Bishop joined the New York City Fire Department at the age of 25 in 1979 and served until the age of 46, retiring as a lieutenant in 1999.

A photo of Michael Bishop as a New York City firefighter hangs in his Brockton home on Friday, June 11, 2021. Bishop worked for the service for over 20 years and retired as a lieutenant .  He responded as a volunteer on September 11.

He worked in the city’s fire stations, responded to fires in various types of buildings and carried out rescues.

“(Fighting the fires) was the best job in the world,” Bishop said. “It was like an adrenaline rush.”

He followed in his father’s footsteps, Homer Bishop, who was also a New York City firefighter and chief, the second-highest position in the department. Homer Bishop died of leukemia at age 57.

Michael Bishop, a retired firefighter from New York, has memorabilia hanging in his Brockton home on Friday, June 11, 2021.

Bishop has his father’s helmet in his office and his own helmet that he wore when he volunteered at the old World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001. This helmet still has dust from Ground Zero on it and a small American flag attached to it.

At the time of the response on September 11, Bishop was retired. He and other retired firefighters and volunteers worked at the site for about two weeks.

Bishop said if he was still at work he would have been in one of the towers that collapsed.

The next day he started spitting gray dust from the debris at Ground Zero.

“At that point, I knew it was bad,” he said.

Cancer and palliative care

Over the past four years, levels of Bishop’s prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by normal and malignant prostate cells, had increased, but he had no symptoms of prostate cancer, which may include prostate cancer. urine problems, pain, and weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, according to the American Cancer Society.

Zero is considered a normal PSA level and above 4 nanograms per milliliter a biopsy would be required. Bishop said his PSA count was 10 ng / ml and that a biopsy had been done on his prostate, and that he was found to have cancer in 2019.

Michael Bishop, who has prostate cancer and receives hospice care through the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association, has been wearing his fire helmet since his time as lieutenant in New York on Friday, June 11, 2021.

In August 2019, Bishop underwent surgery on his prostate, which is a treatment for cancer.

He refused chemotherapy and said he planned to fight cancer without it.

Since then, the cancer has progressed to stage 4 and metastasized into the bones of her body.

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In November 2020, Bishop began receiving palliative care through the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association. A nurse visits him at home every week and takes care of him.

Bishop said his prostate cancer developed as a result of his exposure to dust at the World Trade Center site.

Michael Bishop, who has prostate cancer and receives hospice care through the Brockton Visiting Nurses Association, was pictured on Friday, June 11, 2021. He was a New York firefighter who responded as a volunteer September 11th.

Aerodigestive disorders that affect breathing, speaking, swallowing and eating are the leading condition among responders and survivors, according to the World Trade Center Health Program. Cancer is the second, followed by mental health and acute skeletal, muscle and traumatic injuries.

According to the World Trade Center Health Program, the main types of cancers treated and surviving in the program have been linked to the skin, prostate, breast, lymphatic system, thyroid, lungs, kidneys, blood, and colon. .

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The program was created to provide health care to responders and survivors directly affected by the September 11, 2011 attacks in New York and Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

Along with the New York Fire Department, the program provides physical and mental health services to serving and retired members of the service who responded to September 11.

Bishop is part of the program and he has a nurse from the New York Department assigned to him who checks in with him over the phone.

Michael Bishop was a firefighter in New York for over 20 years and retired as a lieutenant.  He responded as a volunteer on September 11.

The main symptom Bishop said he experienced with cancer was fatigue.

“Cancer ends up taking all of your energy,” he said.

Until his cancer diagnosis, Bishop said he had no health problems. Over the years, doctors believed he was suffering from various ailments, but after further testing, these came back negative, he said.

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Bishop said he trained throughout his life, particularly during his career as a firefighter.

He lifted weights to stay in shape and until a few months ago he continued to go to the local YMCA to train. Bishop said he had to cut back on his physical activities about a month ago.

Michael Bishop keeps memories of his career as a New York City firefighter in his home office in Brockton on Friday, June 11, 2021. He served in the department for over 20 years and retired as a lieutenant.  As a volunteer after his retirement, he responded on September 11.

The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund was established for the benefit of individuals or a representative of a deceased person who was present at or around the World Trade Center exhibition grounds, the Pentagon crash site and the Shanksville, Pa., crash site between Sept. 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, and had since been diagnosed with a Sept. 11-related illness.

The fund is intended for first responders, volunteers like Bishop, and people who have lived, worked and attended school in the exhibit area, according to the fund’s website.

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Bishop said he signed up through the fund and was working with a lawyer to see if he could apply for and receive money from the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.

A Brockton native, Kenneth Feinberg, has been appointed special master of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and has been tasked with overseeing the administration of the funds.

Life since retirement

Since retiring as a firefighter, Bishop has started a business with his son that sells training tools to the fire and police departments and the military.

One of the tools teaches firefighters to work together to use a jamb and an ax to force open a door.

Another interest that Bishop has been able to focus more on since retirement is music.

Bishop sang and played music for 30 years. He started playing the piano at age 7, taking guitar lessons as a teenager, and performed in clubs in Manhattan.

He had received several offers for recording contracts but declined them.

An offer came in 1990 from Atlantic Records, whose rep called him to the fire station. Bishop said no because at the time he was halfway through his career as a firefighter, on the verge of becoming a lieutenant and had young children.

“It was the best decision I have ever made,” Bishop said of choosing the firefighters over the music.

Michael Bishop plays guitar in his home studio in Brockton on Friday, June 11, 2021. He has been playing guitar since he was a teenager and has been able to focus more on his music since retiring from a New York firefighter. .

The genre of music for which he has performed and written music is folk rock.

Bishop has a music studio in his house with a keyboard, electronic drums, speakers, and a 16-track recorder. He’ll play and record different parts of a song and put them all together, so it looks like Bishop is playing with a whole band.

During his retirement, he wrote and sold songs to a record company and is paid a writer’s fee.

Because he couldn’t make it to clubs in Massachusetts to perform, Bishop hosted a series of virtual COVID concerts and posted videos online.

On Friday, Bishop will perform at a Brockton Visiting Nurse Association event at Thorny Lea Golf Club. This event allows members of the public to have fun and meet members of the palliative care team. There will also be a raffle.

Jason McAvoy, director of palliative and palliative care, said the organization’s palliative care program began in 2018 and the program has around 45 patients.

The Brockton Visiting Nurse Association also provides home nursing care.

Bishop said he had been in the right place at the right time on several occasions, which led to “off the beaten track” times in his life.

An example of this is when he traveled to France in 2004 and discovered stained glass windows depicting what he says shows locking rods on the Arc de l’Alliance. In the Bible, the bow is described as a sacred vessel that contains the Ten Commandments.

He considers himself spiritual and was brought up in Catholicism, but he does not agree with all the views of the church.

Bishop said he was ready to die and his family was preparing for it. He believes there is life after death.

“It’s a matter of time and you never know,” Bishop said.

Editor-in-Chief Mina Corpuz can be contacted by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.

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