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Phoenix fire chief diagnosed with breast cancer

Posted at 7:49 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 20:26:08-05

PHOENIX — Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will be taking medical leave to undergo surgery.

In an open letter on Facebook, Kalkbrenner said she will have double mastectomy surgery Friday, December 13.

The diagnosis came after I discovered a lump in my breast several weeks ago," Kalkbrenner wrote. "Our department is fortunate to have the exemplary team from the Vincere Cancer Center in our court. The physicians used state of the art diagnostics to determine the best course of treatment."

Kalkbrenner became Phoenix's fire chief in 2014. She has been outspoken about the increased risk firefighters face in getting cancer. She has promoted programs for screening and early diagnosis to save lives.

"This diagnosis is only strengthening my resolve to eradicate the disease from being considered an eventual expectation of having this career," Kalkbrenner wrote.

"We've had Fire Chiefs reach out to us in the last 24 hours saying 'she spoke at a convention in Ohio, or a convention in Boston' about how cancer is the silent killer right now of our firefighters and now here she is with her own battle right in front of her," said Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade. "We hope that it is early enough, and from all reports that we have, this is a cancer that we fully believe that she is going to beat."

According to Phoenix Councilwoman Laura Pastor, 600 firefighters have been screened since April and 20 have been positive, the chief being one of them.

The City of Phoenix, Phoenix Police Department and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey shared their support for Chief Kalkbrenner on social media Wednesday night.

"She's a fighter , and she's going to make it through this, we know that," Captain McDade said.