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Guest Post by Anita Paratley, San Francisco Fire Department Battalion Chief

I am the San Francisco Fire Department Battalion Chief and a breast cancer survivor.

Of Ashkenazi and Sicilian descent, I was raised on the south shore of Long Island and moved to San Francisco at the age of 23. I’ve lived in SF for the past 40 years and have spent over 30 years in fire service. I’m passionate about working out and being physically active—hiking, motorcycling, and exploring—and staying socially connected.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. I found out through self-examination, despite a mammogram false negative, and yearly mammograms, and bi-yearly breast MRIs before that. Thanks to the efforts of a thorough doctor, I was finally diagnosed through an ultrasound with a needle core biopsy. I survived a lumpectomy and 33 doses of radiation, curtailed due to severity of my skin burns.

I am fortunate to have strong young women around me. My domestic partner has two beautiful daughters and a granddaughter. I have two strong, smart, and vibrant nieces. And I’m also surrounded by a multitude of strong hardworking female firefighters that are routinely exposed to toxics, products of combustion, and dangerous carcinogens.

So, why do I support breast cancer prevention and BCPP?

BCPP does the kind of prevention work that will protect the lives of our firefighters, families, and clean water. Just this year, BCPP helped pass a ban on harmful PFAS ‘forever’ chemicals in firefighting foam. This kind of legislation to prevent breast cancer is life-saving!

I believe prevention protects our loved ones. I think of the many women firefighters in the past and present who have had to face their challenges and hardships with breast cancer. I lost my Aunt Paula when she was 50 years old and two more dear-to-my-heart firefighters, Alyson and Denise. They will be with me always.

Cancer has no boundaries. All people suffer from this insidious disease—the people who get diagnosed and the people who love them.

Thank you for supporting BCPP’s work to prevent breast cancer. Prevention protects our loved ones.

With gratitude,

Anita Paratley
San Francisco Fire Department Battalion Chief

P.S. This Tuesday, Dec. 1, is #GivingTuesday, a global day of generosity. Facebook fundraisers are an easy way to let your friends know you care about breast cancer prevention.
P.P.S. Check out BCPP’s Changemakers’ Chat: Firefighters & Forever Chemicals featuring San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson. 

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