NORTH PORT-  A North Port firefighter puts his life on the line every day to protect his community. After enduring hardship after hardship, now the community is protecting his family.

A firefighter/EMT for the City of North Port, Matt Parrish gives back every day.

"Somebody called us because they're having the worst day of their lives, so we're there to help them." Parrish said. "I don't expect any recognition."

But he earned it, as 2017 firefighter of the year and 2018 hometown hero.

Some of the highs in the past couple of years, but with them came lows, like Parrish's home going into foreclosure.

"We decided to let the bank buy us out,” Parrish said. “By the time we bought this place it was December 2017 and we knew we had a lot of work on our hands"

But Parrish didn't know that was just the beginning for him, his two kids, and his wife, Rachel.

"She was having stomach pains and stuff she had a cat scan...sort of led to them finding something" Parrish said.

They learned Rachel had stage four colon cancer.

"We were in shock we didn't know what to think, you know she was at the gym, she was lifting weights guys couldn't do." Parrish said.

Her healthy lifestyle is what Matt thinks in part hid the cancer, which doctors say probably started forming a decade ago, and spread to her liver breast, femur, brain, skull, ribs and ovary.

"A lot of my friends ask me how I’m doing it,” Parrish said. “And I don't think they give themselves enough credit."

From supporting the Parrish's during Rachel’s battle with cancer, to helping him every day as he works on his dream home

"I like to think I'm pretty tough but I wouldn't be able to do it with each and every person around me, family and friends" Parrish said.

And now a helping hand from Carl Reynolds law.

"This is the least we can do to support you,” Reynolds said. “Your community appreciates you and we appreciate all that you do"

It's a lot of work, but Parrish says the house is a good distraction.

"I spend a lot of time out here if I'm not with my wife and taking her to the doctor or at work or with the kids at a sports function" Parrish said.

But of course Rachel is always on his mind. "She's beautiful, she's fun,” Parrish said.

Rachel's had more than 13 rounds of chemo and her next surgery is March 13th.  There's a raffle to benefit the Parrish family March 9th at Big Top Brewing's Spring Festival.