ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Arlington firefighter Paul Jackson has found family members in unlikely places. His first new family came when his mother abandoned him and his brother as children. That’s when he met Barbara Edenburn and her husband. Jackson now calls Edenburn mom.

“We’ve known each other since I was probably about nine or ten,” Jackson said. “Their family moved into our neighborhood. They were kind of old school in the way a village raises a child and we stuck to that. Doing chores in the alley for money turned into Easter dinners, turned into graduations and it just blossomed from there.”

(credit: CBS 11 News)

(credit: CBS 11 News)

Edenburn and her husband didn’t officially adopt Jackson — but they raised him.

And just weeks ago, he learned his “mom” has breast and bone cancer.

“My immediate thought was, ‘What am I going to do’,” Jackson said. Not, ‘woe is me,’ but, ‘What am I going to do to help my mom? Because she’s done everything for me.’

Jackson began making t-shirts and selling them to raise money for her mounting medical bills.

“Anything that I could do would be small in relation to what she’s done for me,” Jackson said.

But that’s when he learned he had yet another family.

“The deeper I got into it the more I realized how many people, especially in the fire department, are affected by this,” Jackson said.

So many firefighters had loved ones affected by breast cancer, the fire department adopted the fund raiser department-wide to let firefighters like Jackson know they’re not alone in their battle. They even painted a pink ribbon, symbolizing the battle against breast cancer, on the side of one of the fire trucks at Jackson’s fire station.

“It truly is a second family,” Jackson said. “And when you go through something like this with your second family it makes it so much easier.

Click here to visit the Arlington firefighters association website to see and buy the t-shirts to help people battling breast cancer.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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