An amazing firefighter GoFundMe: Casey Budlong

UPDATE: CASEY IS HOME and is doing well, considering.
Still not out of the woods, more details from James and Katy pending …
His GoFundMe page has a bunch more photos!

    Casey has been released from the hospital and is home on the farm! We are still waiting on the final pathology results, but we know he will have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation again. We are so thankful for the love and support that we have received, and we will continue to keep everyone updated.
Casey Budlong
Casey Budlong

Hey everyone my name is James Snell with the La Grande Airtanker Base. Unfortunately, as many of us already know, Casey’s brain cancer has returned and as I’m typing this message Casey is undergoing open brain surgery. Casey has over 20 years working in wildland fire for the US Forest Service, with the last 5 years working at the La Grande Airtanker Base. He began his service as a wildland firefighter in his hometown of Detroit Lake, Oregon and went on to serve at various locations in eastern Oregon, including 8 years with La Grande Hotshots. Katy Budlong, his wife, has said expenses for medical bills not covered by insurance will be at least $30,000.

Casey Budlong family
Casey Budlong family

For this reason, we here at the La Grande Airtanker Base have decided to start up a GoFundMe to assist the Budlongs with their out-of-pocket costs.

The length of Casey’s post-surgery recovery is unknown at this point. Your donations will help cover medical expenses, hotel stays, and gas money for travel between La Grande and Portland, among other expenses that will arise during his rehabilitation. Please consider donating, a gift of any amount would mean the world for the Budlongs.

Casey Budlong was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2018 and underwent two brain surgeries, six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, and then another five months of intensive chemotherapy. Casey recovered remarkably well and faced the challenge with positivity and humor. Unfortunately, in April 2023, he developed a bad headache and lost peripheral vision in his left eye. A trip to the ER and a CAT scan revealed a new tumor located right-rear; the first tumor was right-front. The ER doctors immediately referred Casey back to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, and he has gotten further tests and is working on getting surgery scheduled. So, surrounded by an amazing support system of family and friends and an exceptional medical team, Casey will once again face this challenge.

Casey is doing great! They removed the drain tube this afternoon and are keeping his pain level down. After the last surgeries, he developed a blood clot in his leg, so they did a scan today and unfortunately found a clot in the same spot, so they will be placing an IVC filter tomorrow morning for that. He is still in ICU, but with orders to be transferred to general as soon as they have a room ready, but it might not be till tomorrow. He has definitely become the favorite patient and has kept the staff laughing, and they all love him! His nurse last night was briefing some of the medical team outside his room, describing his history and how well he is doing, and told them, “You have Captain America in there!” He is a superhero, although Chris said he is more like the Hulk. He is also eating in true Casey fashion and loving the hospital food. He may go home tomorrow, but that will depend on how he does. As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers! ❤️

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9 thoughts on “An amazing firefighter GoFundMe: Casey Budlong”

  1. I worked with Casey several times while on a different hotshot crew. He’s such a badass. Great cutter, fun guy always positive energy. Sometimes if LaGrande beat us back to dinner I would blame Casey if the steaks were gone and we had to eat some tofurkey thing 😉

    Sending positive thoughts his way. Fuck Cancer.

    I also hope that he has filed a claim with DOL. They should be covering 100% of his medical bills for cancer.

  2. Damn, I was born in La Grande and lived in Union County as a child. I am sorry to hear about these personal challenges for local folk and understand some of the challenges since my youngest son works as part of a hotshot team. I will be sharing your information with my family and friends.

  3. Let’s step up and help this family, if not us then who? A lot of folk visit if each one of us do just a little…..a little will become a big deal…..let’s take some of the pressure off of this family…..Thanks…….

    Oh….He’s a Hotshot and that make him extra special…….

  4. Ben is correct.

    On December 23, 2022, a law was enacted requiring the Department of Labor to cover the medical expenses of Federal wildland firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer. On March 20, 2023, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program issued FECA Bulletin 23-05 to expedite the DOL’s processing of these claims. Also, DOL has established a special unit for processing these claims.

    The Details:
    – Section 5305 (Fairness for Federal Firefighters) of Public Law 117-263 added a new section 8143b to the Federal Employee Claims Act that established that certain cancers (including brain cancer) are deemed to be caused by Federal wildland firefighting.
    -This means that DOL will approve Workmans Compensation claims for firefighters with cancer with very little paperwork.
    -This means that DOL should cover at least the medical expenses for this latest round of surgery.
    -There are only three requirements to be eligible (and it sounds like Casey easily meets all three):
    *a medical diagnosis of one of 14 types of cancer (including brain cancer).
    *at least five years as a Federal wildland firefighter.
    *not more than 10 years since working as a Federal wildland firefighter.
    -I will reach out to the Forest Service to request that they relay this information to you. Managers of Federal employees should know this information and should be providing it to employees.

    I’m so sorry to hear that Casey, you, and your family are going through this. I hope this is helpful.

  5. I lost both my Engineer and Firefighter to brain cancer. Both only a few years apart and of different forms of cancer. Both took almost a year to happen. It sure shook our dept up for a while. Thank goodness the dept picked it up as job related. Each one left behind a wife and two children. One two girls and the other two boys.

  6. Dennis, I’m so saddened to read this. I hope their families (and you and yours) are doing okay.

    PLEASE NOTE THE COMMENT here from Bryan and follow up and make sure the families are taken care of. 💙

  7. Hey thank you for bringing this up, I had heard something about this but wasn’t familiar with it. This is James Snell.

  8. Hey Ben, this is James Snell. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I had heard something about filing a claim. Thank you it means a lot. I just forwarded your comments to Casey’s wife.

  9. Thanks Bryan!!! This is James Snell, really good info to know. I just passed this information to Casey’s wife. I’m the Assistant at the La Grande Airtanker Base. His wife may be contacting you soon? I’m calling HR right now!

What do you think?