CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - Rushing into fires or pulling people from wrecked cars is part of the job description for Crockett Fire Chief John Angerstein. He is used to saving others, but this past February, he needed other people to save his.
Angerstein developed a Clark's Level 4 malignant melanoma but, he didn't learn about the aggressive cancer until he went to get a haircut.
"My barber mentioned I had a spot on my head, actually right above my ear," Angerstein said. "I have other moles, so I ignored it and went home. I had another person then point it out, so I called my dermatologist that night and set up an appointment for the next day."
The appointment for Angerstein led him to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
"He looked at it and his words said, 'Well that's concerning. That's worrisome,'" Angerstein said. "They weren't sure they were going to be able to get all of it.
The news came to Angerstein while his wife was out of the country dealing with a family issue.
Alone, John turned to his faith and his doctors.
"I didn't know whether I was going to be okay or not," Angerstein said. "I was at peace when I went in because of prayer and family support."
On February 1, Angerstein went into surgery to attack the aggressive cancer. Then he got the news that all the cancer was stopped before hitting the lymph nodes.
"There were people in various stages of cancer down there in a whole lot worse shape that I was in," Angerstein said. "I was very blessed to come out of it like I was."
Looking back, Angerstein still finds it hard to describe how he felt when he walked into the complex in Houston.
"It's a misconception that you know how you are feeling," Angerstein said. "People are always asking you how are you feeling, 'Everything okay?' You know, when you are going through it you don't know how you are feeling. You kind of feel numb. "
Angerstein said he is moving forward and helping others.
"I don't want to be a sob story," Angerstein said. "What I want others to get out of this is to go to your physical. As firefighters, a lot of times we tend to be the strong ones and tend to put stuff off like that. We're are the ones that are most pre-disposed to skin cancer and testicular cancer. We need to be the ones to go out there and fight that fight. Time really is of the essence between getting something cut out and chemo or radiation. "