ARGYLE, Texas — On Friday, former Argyle mayor and retired firefighter, Don Moser, died at 56 years old from cancer.
WFAA has been following Moser's battle against cancer since 2019. He said back then doctors believed it was caused by his occupation as a firefighter, being exposed to carcinogens for decades.
Moser started as a volunteer firefighter in Colleyville when he was 16 years old. He worked at the Bedford Fire Department for most of his career, 17 years, and retired at Westlake Fire Department in 2005.
Cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health concluded that firefighters face a 9% increase in cancer diagnosis, and a 14% increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general U.S. population.
"He was a firefighter during a time when awareness wasn't there," said Terry Moser, his wife.
In June 2017, Don Moser was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. Over the years, it spread to his sacrum, lungs, liver, brain and spinal cord.
Moser was retired as a firefighter when he was diagnosed. He tried filing worker's compensation claims, but they were automatically denied. His appeal was denied too. Retired firefighters are not covered under worker's compensation laws in Texas.
"It shouldn't be that way. They put their lives on the lines every day. They were willing to die," said Terry.
She said treating cancer is expensive, and many retired firefighters have to choose between paying for medication or a mortgage. She wants all firefighters to be protected under the law.
"He didn't go easily. He fought until the very end, to the last breath," Terry said. "Don would like to see that retired firefighters be included, and be recognized in the ability to claim workers comp when they develop certain cancers."
Even though Moser's fight against cancer is over, his battle for retired firefighter rights continues through his story.
Moser's memorial service will be on May 20 at Well Community Church in Argyle.