Boston Fire Department

Young Boston firefighter's death shines light on occupational cancer: ”It needs to stop'

Mat Troy, a 32-year-old Boston firefighter, lost his battle with cancer Wednesday; data shows the illness is responsible for two thirds of line-of-duty firefighter deaths

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The death of a young Boston firefighter has advocates calling for increased awareness for occupational cancer.

Mat Troy, a Boston firefighter, lost his battle with cancer Wednesday. He was just 32 years old.



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Troy was diagnosed with the illness in September of 2022, but his positive attitude never changed, even during his final weeks in the hospital.

"He was always funny, witty, quick," said childhood friend and Quincy firefighter Shawn Clancy. "He's always making sure that everybody him has a smile on their face."

Troy and Clancy, a fellow Marine, played youth hockey together. After Troy's cancer diagnosis, Clancy helped organize a hockey game between their fire departments, raising $40,000.

"Being able to do that for him, and show him how the community loves him, and that he wasn't in that fight alone, meant a lot to him," Clancy said.

Dan Ranahan, another Boston firefighter, was also a source of support.

"I got diagnosed in 2020 with Stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma at 30," Ranahan said.

He started the Boston Fire Cancer Foundation, supporting Troy and many other firefighters and their families.

"It's impacting younger and younger firefighters every day," Ranahan said of occupational cancer. "It needs to stop."

Data shows that two thirds of line-of-duty firefighter deaths are due to cancer.

Ranahan recently teamed up with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, making sure firefighters get the resources they need. In Massachusetts, health costs are covered for firefighters with cancer.

Sam Dillon, president of the Boston Firefighters Local 718, says the partnership is critical.

"Mat was supposed to have more days ahead of him than behind him, when it came to being a firefighter and when it came to living," Dillon said.

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