Women Firefighters’ Health and Wellness Conference

November 8, 2019
8:00am - 4:00pm
Florian Hall - Boston, MA

City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston Fire Department Commissioner/Chief of Department Joseph Finn, Boston Firefighters Local 718 President Bobby Petitti, IAFF 3rd District Vice President Jay Colbert and PFFM President Rich MacKinnon invite you to attend the first Women Firefighters’ Health and Wellness Conference.

This free, daylong program will provide educational presentations focused on the health and wellness of women firefighters, including occupational cancer, cardiovascular disease, holistic wellness, diabetes, stress management, and presumption laws.



Free, must register by 11/1


Schedule available


New! Sessions and Speakers

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Speakers and Sessions


The Other Side of Cancer
Lt. Nicole Stanley
Mashpee Fire Department

In 2018, Lt. Nicole Stanley found herself staring down a breast cancer diagnosis. After 16 weeks of chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy, Lt. Stanley is “cancer-free” and ready to be back to work. She’ll join us for a special session on her fight through to the other side of cancer.

Skin Cancer: What You Need to Know
Christine Kannler, MD
Northeast Dermatology Associates

In the last 2 years, Dr. Christine Kannler, a Mohs micrographic surgeon at Northeast Dermatology Associates specializing in skin cancer, has conducted skin cancer screenings on over 3,000 firefighters in Massachusetts through her very personal efforts to address cancer in firefighters. Dr. Kannler is the sister of Chelsea (MA) Firefighter Peter Kannler, who died of occupational cancer at the age of 36, leaving behind a wife and 2 young daughters. She will present 10 things every firefighter should know about skin cancer, including what to watch for and what to act on quickly.

Q&A: Special Topics in Women’s Health

Following their individual briefings, Dr. Moy, Dr. Shepard, and Dr. Wexler will be available for an open question and answer session. Bring your questions!

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Breast Cancer: The Benefits of Early Screening
Beverly Moy, MD

Dr. Beverly Moy, Clinical Director of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)’s Breast Oncology Program, will discuss the importance of early diagnosis of breast cancer, with a focus on benefits of breast cancer screenings for firefighters.

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Lung Cancer Screening
Jo-Anne Shepard, MD

Dr. Jo-Anne Shepard, Director of Thoracic Imaging and Intervention at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), will discuss lung cancer screening programs, including how an exam is conducted; screening eligibility requirements; and the risk and benefits of lung screenings. Dr. Shepard will also help attendees to understand the spectrum of options available for nodule management.


Hormones, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health
Deborah J. Wexler, MD

Dr.  Deborah J. Wexler, Clinical Director of the MGH Diabetes Center, will present on topics central to the health of women firefighters: how lifestyle intervention and change can prevent diabetes, important strategies for reducing cardiovascular disease risk, and lastly, how hormone health plays a role in menopause, thyroid disorders, and osteoporosis.


Substance Use Disorder and Women in the Fire Service
Deanna Griffith, BS

Individuals struggling with addiction who are also working in a first responder capacity, face a unique set of challenges when providing substance use disorder and dual diagnosis treatment. The dynamic nature of their profession potentially exposes them to extreme levels of stress, trauma, physical and psychological danger.  Firefighters who are diagnosed with substance use disorder, require treatment programs that are developed in consideration of these variables and special issues that require discerning clinical interventions. This presentation will describe the services offered at Geisinger-Marworth in terms of treating Uniformed Professionals and discuss how women in the fire service are impacted.


Briefing: Presumption Law Updates
Richard MacKinnon, Jr.

PFFM President Rich MacKinnon will present an update on recent changes to the state’s cancer presumption laws, including the addition of breast and women’s reproductive cancers considered presumptive for Massachusetts firefighters. This presentation will also help firefighters outside of Massachusetts to understand what may be needed in working through presumption legislation in their home states.


Pregnancy and Miscarriage: Research and Policies
Sara Jahnke, Ph.D.
Brittany Hollerbach, Ph.D.
Center for Fire, Rescue, and EMS Health Research

Over the last few years, Dr. Sara Jahnke and Dr. Brittany Hollerbach of the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) have worked to increase the amount of research looking into the health and wellness of women firefighters. Dr. Hollerbach, with Dr. Jahnke joining us via a live video feed, will present their latest research, with a focus on firefighter pregnancy and miscarriage. They will also share policies and other best practices identified through this research.


Cancer Research: Updates on the Breast Milk Study and Other Studies
Jefferey L. Burgess, MD, MS, MPH
University of Arizona

The University of Arizona’s Dr. Jeff Burgess will present updates on ongoing firefighter cancer research, including the FEMA-funded breast milk and cancer cohort studies. Dr. Burgess will also brief attendees on how they can take part in these and other ongoing studies, as researchers seek to expand their research into the effects of firefighting on women’s health.


Nutrition in the Firehouse
Chloe Schweinshaut
Riverside Nutrition 

Nutrition is more than diet – sleep, stress, exercise, environment, and lifestyle all play a role in maintaining a healthy life. This is especially true for women firefighters, who must also account for occupational exposures. Chloe will talk about the special nutritional needs for women firefighters and her go-to foods to help make your firehouse diet healthy.


Getting the Right Care: Educating Your PCP
Michael Hamrock, MD
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

As a PCP to numerous firefighters, Dr. Michael Hamrock has developed recommendations for firefighters to use in discussing with their own PCPs why they need early cancer and cardiac screenings. As a former BFD firefighter and medical examiner now serving as a primary care physician and substance abuse specialist at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Dr. Hamrock will empower attendees to advocate for their own health due to the special occupational risks they face as firefighters.  


Integrating Biomarker, Exposure, and Survey Data for Women Firefighters: The FEMA Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study Expansion
Alberto Caban-Martinez, DO, PhD, MPH, CPH
University of Miami

Linking critical occupational health and safety information in the U.S. women firefighter workforce is paramount to understanding how illness and injury comes about. Dr. Caban-Martinez will discuss how the FEMA-funded Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study Expansion is planning to integrate women into the firefighter survey, exposure and biological markers into one national study. Data from this growing cohort will provide insight into strategies that can reduce cancer risk in women firefighters.