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San Diego police officer starts campaign to help partner with cancer

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 20:33:30-04

A San Diego police officer battling Stage 3 rectal cancer is getting support from many, including his partner, who is behind a campaign with a catchy name.

Gregory Pilkington and Jason Zdunich have been partners at San Diego police for about a year, but their bond goes beyond the police force.

"My wife has called Jason my girlfriend," Pilkington said.

"My wife calls Greg my work boyfriend," Zdunich added. "We hit it off pretty quick."

Zdunich said he thought there was an instant connection because Pilkington, who is a military reservist, had just returned from deployment and they shared a military and law enforcement bond.

Zdunich, a husband and father of two, served in the Air Force.

"My sergeant stuck me with this guy," Pilkington said.

Ten hours in a patrol car can go south fast. Pilkington remembers his first impression of Zdunich.

"This guy is an [expletive]," Pilkington explained. "I don't really like him."

Blissfully unaware, Zdunich picked him as a partner the next night.

"I mentioned to him in passing my wife and I finally had a date night, but we just didn't have any money to go anywhere," Pilkington said.

Zdunich treated them to a surprise date night.

"That was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me," Pilkington added.

Now, they do not even do the daily lineup because they always ride together. That changed a week ago.

"I went in because I thought I had a hemorrhoid," Zdunich explained. "He [the doctor] just said you're chockfull of cancer in there."

Zdunich, 35, will undergo chemotherapy to shrink it so doctors can cut it out.

"Talk about a pain in the [expletive]!" Zdunich joked.

The men laugh to keep from crying.

"He means a lot to a lot of people," Pilkington said.

Pilkington is trying to raise $25,000 for whatever Zdunich's family needs. He created a GoFundMe page.

"Since he has [expletive] cancer, I named it 'Save the [expletive]' because he's a bit of an [expletive]," Pilkington said with a smile.

Zdunich is truly touched.

"There are people I've never even met that just say, 'I'm going to be there,'" Zdunich said with tears in his eyes.

It is only fitting since he dedicated his life to serving strangers.

For now, Pilkington is serving solo.

"I just don't like anyone enough," Pilkington said with a big laugh. "I like Jason."

He is doing what he can since he cannot protect Zdunich from this killer.

"He is an [expletive], but he's a lovable [expletive], so he's my [expletive]," Pilkington added.

He said Zdunich will pull through and fill that seat again.