A community is coming together to help a beloved volunteer firefighter and father who was diagnosed with Stage 4 of a rare brain cancer.
Brian Saphire, 33, of Lindenhurst, first realized something was wrong in October after experiencing a migraine for several days. But what he thought would be a checkup for a headache turned out to change the trajectory of his life.
After a visit to the emergency room, doctors discovered a rare tumor in the pineal region of Saphire’s brain. They performed an emergency life-saving surgery to drain spinal fluid that had built up. He underwent another surgery two weeks later.
“They went inside my brain, removed a piece of my skull and took out 98 percent of the tumor,” he said.
Four weeks after his first visit to the emergency room, Saphire was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer — making him permanently disabled and unable to work. Only 81 adults per year are diagnosed with this kind of tumor, Saphire said, and survival rates are generally low.
“There’s really no way of tracing this tumor,” he said. “I’m one of those lucky people.”
At the time of his emergency surgery, Saphire was already facing hardships. Prior to Covid, he worked as a stagehand in the entertainment industry, in addition being a volunteer firefighter with the Lindenhurst Fire Department for several years.
When the pandemic hit, Saphire was quickly placed out of work. Since he was the provider for his wife Bridget and their 8-month-old daughter, Bailey Grace, the financial burden forced them to move in with his mother-in-law in Malverne.
Still, that didn’t stop him from joining Malverne Volunteer Fire Department, to continue helping others.
Prior to the pandemic, Saphire worked as a stagehand in the entertainment industry, and was the sole provider for his family. (Meghan Saphire)
“I personally believe I was put on this earth to help people out,” said Saphire. “I wasn’t put on this earth to get help from people. I’m never gonna change.”
He had only recently gotten his job back when his migraines occurred, he said.
Meghan Saphire, his younger sister, felt compelled to help by creating a GoFundMe fundraiser.
“I knew that this was just a financial burden that was gonna completely shake his nuclear family,” she said.
Meghan told Patch she was heartbroken when learning about her brother’s diagnosis. The siblings come from a family of six kids, but she always considered him her best friend.