Community rallies behind South Bend firefighter battling brain cancer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Josh Comeau has spent years fighting fires with the South Bend Fire Department. Now he’s fighting brain cancer, but not without an entire community behind him.
His friends say that’s because he’s dedicated his life to serving that community.
“They're beautiful people and wonderful givers in the community,” said Bob Kloska, a close family friend. “ And when you spend a lifetime of giving, then when you're in need, people are there for you."
In 2014 Josh was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. At that point, he was given 14 months to live.
After nearly 4 years, friends and family thought he might have beaten it. Recently, it re-emerged, and he had surgery to remove a tumor in his brain in May. Now, doctors predict Josh has less than a year to live.
Josh and his wife Rosary have six children, ages one to 12. The family is taking the situation and turning it into a story of hope and love.
"The other day I found myself thinking, I don't have enough time with my kids,” said Josh. “I’m not saying it was God at all, but there was a little voice that kind of prompted me and was like ‘You have as much time as I’m going to give you, so why don’t you use it.’”
This time around, Josh isn’t treating the cancer with radiation or chemo. He’s taking a holistic approach and focusing on nutrition.
"It's so scary and there are days when I feel paralyzed by fear," said Rosary, Josh’s wife.
But the Comeau household is letting go of that fear by holding on to their faith.
"To try to have an interview without bringing up Jesus Christ or God or anything like that, that's really tough for me to be. I can't cut that part away from me. Otherwise I wouldn't have any life in me anyway," said Josh.
Josh and Rosary say they feel humbled after gaining so much support from the community. Part of that support is a GoFundMe page created by Kloska.
"Whenever you start a GoFundMe… you never know what exactly the response will be, it's always scary,” said Kloska. “But I was pretty sure with the Comeaus the response would be good."
So he wasn’t surprised when the page raised more than $35,000 in just a week.
"How do you respond to that?” said Josh. “You try to be a better person, because that's all you can do."
And it doesn’t stop at financial donations.
"All of these family and friends that are reaching out and saying ‘What can I do to help you? Let me take kids this day, let me send your kids to a camp this week, let me come clean your house for you,’" said Rosary.
And when they can feel that much love the couple says it’s hard to be upset.
"When I begin to get upset or even question that, it's like God, I know you're bringing all these people together through this. You didn't cause the cancer, you didn't cause the evil, but you're bringing everyone together in all this. I can't be upset at that."
The money raised from the GoFundMe will not only go towards medical expenses and savings. It will also help the family accomplish a dream.
"Rose has always wanted to go to Rome," said Josh. "I would like to take the whole family to Rome and the Vatican to see our Catholic roots, but also to take them to Medjugorje."
Donations to the family can be make on the GoFundMe page by clicking here.