Ocoee firefighter recovering from brain surgery overwhelmed by community support

Department, union and community rallied behind new firefighter

OCOEE, Fla. – An Ocoee Firefighter is on the mend after undergoing surgery following his brain tumor diagnosis.

Taylor and Emily Pageau both say they can’t thank the Ocoee Fire Department, their church and the community enough for standing behind them on their journey.

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“You know when everything is taking care of, it’s easy to go through something like that,” said Taylor Pageau who sat spoke with News 6 alongside his wife.

Taylor Pageau was only two months into his career after being hired in February when it all changed. He was taking part in intensive training that includes breathing in tense situations when he says he felt something wasn’t right.

He didn’t know what it was until it was too late.

“I had a seizure for over two minutes,” Pageau said. His colleagues rushed him to the hospital.

It was there where the 26-year-old heard the most shocking news.

When Pageau woke up, a doctor cleared the room and told Pageau and his wife Emily, that he was diagnosed with a noncancerous tumor in his brain that was compressing and displacing parts of his brain.

According to Pageau, at the time, the news didn’t phase him.

“I actually replied and said, ‘When can we get this done because I have a shift Thursday,’” he said he told the doctors.

Taylor Pageau's brain scan. Doctors discovered a tumor two months after he started with the Ocoee Fire Department. (WKMG 2021)

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Taylor Pageau had six months of recovery and although the operation went well he was only two months into being a firefighter and benefits still like FMLA still hadn’t kicked in for him.

“They barely know my name, you know, but when they found out that it was a problem, they just instantly jumped on board to help us out,” said Taylor as he explained how his department sprung to his rescue this past April.

Emily Pageau says God’s favor was on their side.

“The Fire Union volunteered to work his shifts for the next like two and half weeks because we didn’t know what was going to happen and they wanted us to keep our health insurance and they wanted us to still get paid, so they basically worked their 24-hour shift and then turned around and worked another 24-hour shift for free just so Taylor and I can have money coming in,” explained Emily.

The couple says they were blessed even after the surgery. Church members provided food and even hosted a prayer circle during a drive-by celebration.

Ocoee firefighter Taylor Pageau and his wife Emily at the fire department. (WKMG 2021)

“They circled around us and I think it was the first time (we) actually cried,” recalls Emily.

Taylor Pageau can now walk and is on a fast track to getting back on his feet full-time but says if anyone can take something from his story, it’s this: “With whatever you are going through, whether it’s suicidal thoughts or cancer or anything, please reach out to somebody because facing it alone is so much harder and with what I had to go through, this was easy,” Taylor said.

Due to Taylor Pageau being on short-term disability, more help is still needed which is why the Ocoee Fire Department and the Pageau family have set up a GoFundMe to help with medical bills and living expenses as he continues his journey of recovery.

If anyone would like to help Taylor and Emily Pageau, you can find the link here.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.