Cancer is the leading cause of death for firefighters. It can drown them in medical bills and force them into medical retirement.
At the age of 38 and after only being a firefighter for 5 years, Chris Garcia's life changed.
"It went from being a completely healthy young man, running 6 miles a day and working 140 hours plus a week. Life changed pretty quick," said Lt. Chris Garcia, a member of the Augusta Firefighter Association.
He has Multiple Melanoma. It's an incurable cancer that most people get it in their 60s.
"I think it's directly related to our work," Garcia said.
Garcia works full-time. Plus, he is on chemotherapy every day. He also has six kids, and he's chosen not to tell the youngest ones about the cancer.
"We just told 'em I'm sick. It's hard," Garcia said.
For firefighters, cancer is the unseen enemy. A national study revealed on average that firefighters lose almost 22 years off of their lives.
It’s tough to hear for long-time firefighter Capt. Michael Tomaszewski, the president of the Augusta Firefighters Association.