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Deputy chief's cancer battle inspires recruits to pay it forward

By Kimberly Davidow, Reporter
Published On: Jul 17 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 18 2012 05:21:07 PM CDT

New recruits in the Reading Fire Department are paying it forward.

READING, Pa. -

New recruits in the Reading Fire Department are paying it forward to a friend and mentor whose battling brain cancer.

Deputy Chief Ron Wentzel was all smiles on Wednesday as he made his way through the doors of the Reading Fire Academy.

Prior to his current role, Wentzel was a training lieutenant at the academy. In February, Wentzel said his life changed forever when he collapsed while on the job and was rushed to the hospital.

"I got a neurologist standing in front of me telling me I have a brain tumor," Wentzel said. "The tumor that I have is attached to the left brain stem, which controls right motor skills. It's the most aggressive that there is."

Such news from his doctors, Wentzel said, did not hinder his hopes for recovery.

"I just developed the attitude of no is not an option. Tell me what we need to do to beat this thing," said Wentzel.

Wentzel's motivation struck a chord with the Reading Fire Department's new recruits. To his fellow brothers, Wentzel is known as "Moose."

Through fundraising efforts selling restored fire hydrants, recruits presented "Moose" with a donation to go toward his medical bills. They also gave him an antique fire hydrant to call his own.

"Thank you just isn't enough," said Wentzel.

These past five months, Wentzel said, have been a roller coaster ride. Taking his recovery one day at a time, Wentzel said he is staying positive.

"It just proves that your life can change in a blink of an eye," said Wentzel.

On Tuesday, Wentzel found out from his neurologist that his brain tumor shrank. One day, Wentzel said he will be back on the job doing what he loves.

"I miss being on the street the most, and I just want to get back," said Wentzel.