Nearly 1,000 people turned out for a donor drive Thursday in Mission Valley to help a San Diego firefighter battling a deadly disease.
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As a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department firefighter, Arsenio "RC" Ortanez has battled some of the San Diego area's biggest fires over the last 20 years, including the Cedar Fire in 2003.
In 2007, Ortanez was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, or leukemia CML. It is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells.
"I always kept it to myself
[but] where I'm at right now, it's like I'm running out of options," the 41-year-old said.
He told 10News the hardest part of dealing with the disease is the thought of leaving his 17-year-old daughter, Alley, alone.
"It was hard," Ortanez said, fighting back tears as he recalled the moment doctors told him he had cancer. "I kept thinking about my daughter. I'm a single dad
my daughter is everything to me."
Because his body stopped responding to medications to treat the cancer, Ortanez now needs a bone marrow transplant.
A transplant is often matched by ethnicity. Ortanez is Filipino, and according to the National Marrow Donor Program, only 7 percent of donors are Asian.
The swab samples taken at Thursday's drive will now be tested to see if there is a good match for Ortanez.
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