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Houston officer rescues nearly 1,500 flood victims while battling stage 4 cancer

CBS Newspath

HOUSTON — “I feel great! I feel good, I feel strong.”

Houston Police Officer Bert Ramon became one of the heroes of Hurricane Harvey, helping nearly 1,500 people. Many were children. All were desperate.

“This is one where we unloaded all the seniors from an assisted living facility center in Kingwood.”

For four days, it was treacherous. One police boat capsized and Sergeant Steve Perez drowned in his patrol car.

“You’ve worked Hurricanes Alison and Rita. You helped with evacuees during hurricane Katrina.”

“Right.”

“What was this one like?”

“Apocalypse. It was just unreal.”

And it was dangerous for him.

The 24-year veteran has stage four cancer, and it’s spread from his colon to his liver and lungs.

“I just said ‘He does know his platelet counts are low? So he can bump bruise bleed easily?’ She says ‘I know but it’s what he wants to do.'”

Ramon’s case manager Diana Reed heard that from his wife, Cindy.

“There’s no way I can tell him you can’t go. He looks at me and says ‘You crazy.’ He says ‘I’m going. I’m going in.'”

He had just finished his latest round of chemotherapy when CBS News met him on Sunday. He spoke about faith and finding his purpose.

“God answered my prayer. It came out of this flood. I hope I can inspire other cancer patients that you know don’t let this hold you back. If you feel strong, don’t let it take over your life at all,” he said.

Ramon had been stuck on desk duty. When Houston started to flood, he couldn’t get to his police station so he went to the next closest one: The Lake Patrol Division.

His colleagues said they were worried about him.

“I said, ‘Hey, I’m fine.’ I said, ‘Don’t hold me back. I’ll go wherever I need to be.'”

“Was there ever a moment where you thought, I don’t know if this is smart?”

“No it never crossed my mind. At all never,” Ramon said.

He put his health concerns on hold for the city he swore to serve.

“The public comes first. We’re officers. That’s what we do. As long as I feel good, I feel healthy, I’m going to go out there and work you know. And it hasn’t slowed me down yet. Thank God.”