When Norbert Ramon, a 24-year veteran of the Houston police force, was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, it didn't stop him from stepping up to help the people of his community when they needed it the most.
The 55-year-old police officer who is suffering from colon cancer that has spread to his liver and lungs, was diagnosed 18 month ago during a routine colonoscopy. At the time, his doctors said he may have 6-8 years to live.
In spite of his terminal diagnosis, he played a key role in rescuing residents after Hurricane Harvey as part of the Houston Police Department's Traffic Enforcement division.
In the aftermath of the storm, Ramon, who joined the Lake Patrol, helped to rescue 1,500 residents in the city.
Originally assigned to the Traffic Enforcement division downtown, he was unable to get there when the flash floods began last Sunday morning. So instead he reported to the closest duty station, which was HPD's Lake Patrol Unit.
Between Sunday and Tuesday, the team used four police boats to move more than 1,500 Houston resident out of the flash floods neighborhoods that were submerged.
“They’d have the kids in blankets and stuff. I’m picking them up and putting them in the boat, trying to put their umbrellas on,” Ramon explained. “Then my partner is trying to drive the boat. He’s got all these umbrellas [blocking his field of view on the water]. We’ve got to tell them ‘Hey you gotta close those down. You’re going to get wet. The kids are going to get wet but he needs to see.’”
Rescuing people didn't only help the residents of the community, it had a profound impact on him as well.
Ramon's colleagues indicate that his rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey may have been his finest hour.
“It was desperate. I mean you’ve never seen so much water before,” added the senior police officer.
His wife also commended his efforts.
“From then it was a madhouse,” his wife Cindy told Fox News.
“They started going out rescuing people in all parts of Houston. That’s where it started from and it’s been non-stop."
Being distracted with his rescue efforts took his mind off of his current health condition.
“He’s been so caught up in the emotions and the excitement of trying to rescue people, he had no time to even think about it. You wouldn’t even think he had cancer, he’s plugging along like he doesn’t,” Cindy said.
Living each day, is part of how Ramon is coping with his diagnosis.
“That’s probably one of the best times he’s had since his diagnosis,” said Sgt. Epi Garza, Houston Police, a long-time friend who is also in charge of the Lake Patrol Unit. “His whole mind was occupied on helping people and rescuing lives that day.”
“My main concern was to help the citizens,” said Ramon. "Nothing else was on my mind. I didn’t worry about me or anything.”
After spending three days on the boat, he then drove the eight hours to Tulsa for chemotherapy treatments. He usually flies to Oklahoma, but Houston's two airports still hadn't reopened.
“I don’t worry so much about me. I worry about my wife. She takes it hard. When she takes it hard then I break down,” said Ramon.
This police officer is a clear example of courage in this city, insisting on saving lives while losing his own battle.
“I don’t dwell on it. I don’t like to let people know because I like to be treated equal.”