Follow Us

RACINE — Lieutenant Andy Stein is no stranger to fighting. In fact, it’s a part of his job description as a firefighter with the Racine Fire Department.

As of Nov. 9, Stein began fighting a new battle: pancreatic cancer. The husband and father of two is giving everything he has to beat the disease.

With the support of his family, loved ones and fellow first responders, the Lieutenant is sharing his story.

Unexpected news

After the onset of weight loss, nausea, and other factors, the firefighter sought out medical care. It led him and his family to the news no one is ever prepared to hear: “It’s cancer.”

Stein
Andy (post-diagnosis) and Merry with their two kiddos, ages 13 and 11 on Thanksgiving, 2022. –

“I feel like our family has been picked up and dropped in a foreign land.”

Merry Stein

In Sept. 2022, just two months before his diagnosis, Stein was given a clean bill of health at his yearly physical. Throughout the entire diagnostic period, and even still, to this day, no cancer has been found through bloodwork. It was only detected through imaging, making the news just that much harder to digest.

Now, he’s undergoing chemotherapy treatments and will complete radiation in the future. His team of doctors is also hopeful to perform a removal surgery too.

Even in the fight for Andy’s life, the family stays hopeful.

“It’s devastating, and it’s scary. It really does draw us perspective. We’re just very grateful that we have a close family in times of need, and they have they been very supportive,” says Merry. “We have wonderful friends and neighbors so we’re very blessed with that.”

Stein acknowledges that he’s not alone in his fight.

“My wife has been absolutely wonderful, caring, compassionate and even funny with some of the things that we have to deal with. That’s how you get through life,” says Stein.

Fighting for his family

“Everything I do in my life is for my family,” says Stein. “The most important thing in my life is my family.”

This includes extending himself and treating community members like family. Stein has worked a lifetime of service dedicated to others.

Stein
Andy Stein in 1998 with the New Berlin Police Department. – Photos courtesy of the Stein family

He started his career as a Racine County Sheriff in 1996. From there, he served eight years as a police officer for the City of New Berlin before becoming a firefighter. For the past 17 years, he’s dedicated himself to being a firefighter for the City of Racine.

He is currently taking a hiatus from work to focus on his health.

“It’s pretty debilitating,” comments Andy about his condition. “The Lord has a plan for every one of us.”

His trusting faith and fighting spirit is sticking with him. As a first responder, he’s taking what he’s learned to help him through this phase of life.

“As a police officer and firefighter – after tragedy happens – people eventually are able to recover, to some degree. Recovery is what everybody wants,” says the Lieutenant. “If it’s physical, if it’s other things, get back to normalcy.”

In the meantime, he’s working on getting through treatment. It has opened his eyes to see beyond the lens he was looking through prior to his diagnosis.

“It gives you a perspective on a whole bunch of the things in your life. I have things that I want to do with my family. There’s things that I want to see, and experience with my family and my kids throughout the years,” says the dad.

Stein
Andy Stein’s badges from his extensive career in public service. – Photos courtesy of the Stein family

Advocating for others

“Everybody’s just been great,” says Stein.

The family credits the Racine Fire Department for their support, especially the Racine Fire Administration and Human Resources for their understanding and assistance during this difficult time. Those at Fire Station 3, 1107 Lombard Ave., and The Racine Professional Firefighters Local 321 have surrounded Stein with the utmost support.

Supporters have established a Spotfund page in his name. Contributions to this campaign will support the Stein family through this difficult endeavor. A goal of $50,000 has been set.

Stein has even received a toolbox of resources and care items from the International Association of Firefighters. The organization, which represents firefighters, has a large focus on advocating specifically for firefighter cancer awareness.

“Cancer is a large factor in firefighting nowadays,” says Stein. Spreading awareness about it is important to him and by sharing his story he hopes to help others.

While he does have a family history of cancer, he and other firefighters are at a nine percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer due to the nature of their jobs, according to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH).

The danger can be a result of the different chemicals – carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) – used in homes: in upholstery, building materials, carpet and more.

Stein explains that there are specific protocols in place to wash their gear and to help eliminate these problems from occurring, but it’s not 100 percent effective.

“If anything, I want awareness to come from this. Hopefully, this can have an effect on somebody. Specifically to my brethren, my brothers and sisters, and not only where I work, but also throughout the state of Wisconsin and throughout the United States. If you feel something is wrong, get it checked out,” says Lieutenant Stein.

Support

If you would like to support this local firefighter, follow along with his journey online.

Additionally, share this story with the hashtag #IAFF and learn more about the mission of the International Association of Fire Fighters or The Racine Professional Firefighters Local 321 for additional information.


Local news

The Racine County Eye, which includes the Kenosha Lens, is your source for local news that serves our diverse communities. Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with local news.

Follow us on Facebook: Racine County Eye or Kenosha Lens, and Twitter to make sure you get the latest news.

Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens – Journalism that serves.