Bob Gillman (on left), of Burlington and a firefighter/EMT for more than 20 years who currently works for Medix Ambulance, recently found out he has prostate cancer. Treatment is expected to last two to three years so his ambulance partner, Scott DeVault started a GoFundMe page to help cover Gillmans’ health insurance deductible. (Heather Ruenz photo)

Bob Gillman has served with area departments more than 20 years

By Heather Ruenz

Bob Gillman has been a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician for 20-plus years in the area including serving with the Randall Fire Department, and currently with the City of Delavan through Medix Ambulance.

A routine physical Gillman, who lives in Burlington, underwent quickly took an unexpected turn.

“My PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels were high and there was a small amount of blood in my urine. So they did a biopsy and out of 12 samples taken, six came back positive for cancer,” Gillman said.

He said it was initially unknown if he would have surgery or radiation but because of the location of the cancer, radiation is the best option.

Gillman recently had his first hormone shot, which will help reduce the testosterone level. Overall, he’s expected to undergo treatment for two to three years.

“The radiation will be five days a week for about nine weeks and then they’ll re-evaluate to see if more treatment or another option is needed,” he said.

Because of the cost of the hormone shots and the fact that they’re not covered by his insurance, each year he’s in treatment Gillman will have to meet his deductible.

Realizing that, his friend and partner at Medix Ambulance, Scott DeVault, decided he needed to do something.

“I wasn’t sure what to do but starting a GoFundMe page came to mind right away. I stayed up late one night when we were on shift and got the page set up but didn’t post it. We got a call around 1 a.m. and after I showed Bob the page and asked if he was OK with it,” DeVault said.

Gillman said he’s overwhelmed by the support he’s received.

“I’m so thankful for all of the support, from family and friends to my other family of firefighters and EMTs throughout the area,” he said.

There have also been several donations through the site by people Gillman doesn’t know but who have or had a family member involved with first responder services.

“It’s truly a brotherhood,” Gillman said.

DeVault has worked with Gillman for five years and said Gillman has become like a brother to him.

“I’m asking for help to raise money to help him get through this hard time and make it a little easier on him so he can focus on healing and beating cancers butt,” DeVault posted on the GoFundMe page.

“Bob has saved hundreds and served thousands and has never asked for anything in return. Please let’s finally return the favor and help him out any way possible with any donation you can give,” he added.

The initial goal was one year of what Gillman’s health insurance deductible will cost but has since been upped to roughly three years’ worth of deductibles.

“It’s been a week and a half since we started the page and the support has been amazing,” DeVault said during the interview.

Gillman said he was surprised to get a cancer diagnosis, for several reasons.

“No one in my family has had cancer. It’s always been cardiac so I keep an eye on that and I get my physicals,” he said.

“When they told me I had cancer I was like, ‘Oh, crap.’ It’s hard to hear,” Gillman added.

He and DeVault said they’ve always been empathetic toward their patients but Gillman’s diagnosis will be in the back of their minds more.

“Especially when we help cancer patients because I’ll be able to relate more,” Gillman said.

He’ll undergo radiation at an Aurora facility in Kenosha and plans to continue his work as an EMT and said his coworkers have already offered reassurance.

“They said they’ll do whatever to help cover for me if I have to start late or something with treatment. It’ll all work out and I can’t say thank you enough for all the support,” Gillman said.

To make a donation visit and search “Robert Gillman” or “Firefighter/EMT battling cancer!” or send a check made out to Robert Gillman to: Medix Ambulance, 701 Black Hawk Dr., Suite G, Burlington, WI 53105.


1 Comment

  1. Sorry to hear of your health issues. I’ve wondered how you’ve been.

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