Mike Orland, a local Yucaipa resident and his two sons are currently raising money for the Firefighter Cancer Foundation and an ongoing legacy scholarship for the Crafton Hills Fire Academy by riding dual sport adventure motorcycles 4,000 miles to Alaska leaving on July 10. The trip will take approximately three weeks.
“I spent my whole life trying to instill good values in my kids. Hopefully this ride solidifies that, and at the same time benefits fire service personnel and future firefighters,” said Orland.
In 1994, Orland started his public safety career with Life Care Ambulance, Morongo Basin Ambulance, CAL Fire and the San Manuel Fire Department as a paramedic, firefighter, engineer, and eventually reached the rank of fire captain.
In 2017, Orland had been experiencing some pain in his left shoulder and upper back after a significant mountain bike crash. After this pain proved persistent and intractable, Orland went to the doctor and received the news which changed his whole world: Orland has Stage IV kidney cancer which had already metastasized to his second posterior left rib, hence causing the back pain.
The cancer would continue growing, eventually causing tumors and lesions to his left kidney, spine, ribs, collar bone, and base of his skull. This is a rare cancer for people like Orland. However, Orland would come to learn that this is one of those cancers which disproportionately impacts firefighters.
Orland continued to work as a fire captain until Christmas of 2017, working his last shift so that another captain could have the day off with his family. Throughout 2018, Orland took a medical leave from firefighting, and focused on “kicking cancer’s (butt)!” Orland had the love and support of his sons, mother, father, brother Dave as well as his brother and sister firefighters throughout the Inland Empire as he underwent treatment.
One part of that treatment was the removal of his right kidney, where the cancer had originated. During that medical procedure at Loma Linda, Orland met Lisa and they married in 2018. Lisa was instrumental in helping Orland on his way to recovery.
In addition to his service for others as a firefighter, Orland has also helped others through his philanthropy. In 2014 he raised nearly $20,000 by conducting fundraisers for the Inland Empire Burn Institute, the Childhood Cancer Foundation, and the clothing charity Angel’s Closet.
In 2018, Orland formally retired medically as a paramedic fire captain from the San Manuel Fire Department.
Today he continues his fight to beat cancer, and is spending time with his family and in acting as an advocate for firefighter cancer care and prevention. Orland and his sons have become avid dual sport adventure riders, and frequently spend time together doing this challenging but exhilarating activity.
Orland’s personal battle goes on, but he is passionately committed to supporting research and prevention so that no other firefighter has to get cancer because of the work that they do in service to their community.
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