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WQAD.com

Aspiring firefighter on a new path after life-changing diagnosis

Josh Hill has been training to be a firefighter since he was 15, but a cancer diagnosis changed his path forever.

FULTON, Illinois — Josh Hill made the local paper in Clinton when he saved his father's life at the age of 15. He had only learned CPR a few weeks prior so he could teach swimming lessons. 

"I found him and I did CPR on him for six minutes," Josh said. "And I remember the relief I had when I looked out the window and I saw the fire department was there."

Josh'smother, Gini, keeps the article framed on the wall of her living room. 

"There`s nothing stopping him. There`s nothing that`s going to stop him for the rest of his life," Gini said. 

Ever since, Josh had been on the path to becoming a firefighter. At Western Illinois University, he got his bachelor's degree in fire science and a minor in emergency management. 

"I was on the volunteer fire department as well. But you know, things happen. Things change," Josh said. 

After a year and a half of soreness in his left leg, Josh received a rare and life-changing diagnosis. It was composite hemangioendothelioma. 

"Whenever somebody asked me I was just like, I don’t know it’s just a really rare cancer," Josh said. "It’s a cancer of my blood vessels, but it got into my bones in my left leg, so I ended up having 19 tumors from my foot up to just above my knee on my left leg." 

Josh was diagnosed with cancer in November. When the doctors told the Hill family they would have to amputate in December, Josh's mom took it the hardest. 

"I did. And I still do. Sorry," Gini said, fighting back tears. "There`s a lot of anguish. But there`s so much pride and admiration, and love for this young man that I can`t be sad," she said. 

But Josh soon bounced back. He started a new Instagram account, receiving messages from people from around the world who say they are inspired by his story.  

"Post my workout videos and post me doing crazy stuff, you know with my one leg. And being funny and whatever," Josh said. 

There's no doubt that Josh is on a new path now. He won't be a firefighter. But he's hanging on to his passion to help people. 

"I can do that, still without being a fire fighter. Still without being a first responder," Josh said.