Calif. Firefighter With Cancer Denied Colleagues' Leave

A San Francisco firefighter who is just days away from surgery for breast cancer has learned officials have denied the donation of sick leave by her co-workers.

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Firefighter Janette Neves Rivera has been on medical leave since June and will be forced to return to work in one week, right before she undergoes a double mastectomy, according to KTVU-TV.

"I'm scared," she told the news station. "I'm a tough, strong woman and this does scare me."

The 44-year-old assigned to Station 26 in Diamond Heights and applied for the city's catastrophic illness program that allows employees to donate their leave when 700 of her fellow firefighters stepped up and offered her theirs.

Despite the efforts of her colleagues, Rivera received a denial letter from the San Francisco Department of Public Health citing that her current condition wasn't considered "life-threatening."

An official told the news station that the agency does not discuss personnel matters.

Rivera plans to appeal, but will work for a few days before the surgery in order to take care of her family.

She says her goal is to win her battle with cancer so that she can go back to fighting fires and saving lives.