A San Francisco firefighter who fought for sick time as she battled breast cancer returned to work Thursday at her Diamond Heights fire station one week before her scheduled surgery.
San Francisco firefighter Janette Neves Rivera's return was only temporary because she has a double mastectomy scheduled for next week.
"It was nice to just be here and touch the rig and the equipment and see all my coworkers when I walked in this morning." Rivera said. "I needed to get a paycheck. It's been difficult not having a paycheck these last few months."
Rivera used up all of her sick time and the city told her that her current condition was not life threatening and turned down her application for the catastrophic illness program which would enable her fellow firefighters to transfer their sick time to the 44-year-old mother of two.
Health Department officials said they can't discuss Rivera's case because it is a confidential medical and personnel matter.
Station 26 Capt. Anita Paratley is a breast cancer survivor and said she's tried to be a support for Rivera.
"There's another breast cancer firefighter, a 19-year veteran, that's going through second round chemo," Paratley said. "She's terrified she's going to apply and she heard Janette got rejected and so she's upset."
Rivera said she's now seeking workman's compensation and hopes the attention and support she's received will change how the city awards catastrophic illness benefits.
"I could have a freezer full of lasagnas of people who want to feed me," she said. "But it's more so the love and the support of everyone coming out to say, 'You know, this is something that needs to be changed.'"
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.