CREEDMOOR, N.C. (WTVD) -- More than 20 years ago, Creedmoor officer Lt. Adam Carlson answered the call to protect and serve. After a devastating diagnosis, the community is returning the favor.
"I really enjoy helping people and giving back to the community," said Carlson. "It makes me kind of speechless to see the support."
He ignored the excruciating back pain for weeks and it forced him to the emergency room. A series of screenings led doctors to a tumor on his spine. The diagnosis was stage four lung cancer.
"It all happened really fast to be honest with you," he said. "I heard stage four lung cancer and I thought I needed to start planning for who was going to take care of my wife and kids."
His wife, Krista and three daughters are finding new ways to support him.
"You believe it's end of life and there's nothing they can do," she said.
He is limited in what he do physically, which has forced him to put the badge down for now. He credits his wife for keeping the household running.
"She is absolutely my hero. I do not have any idea how she does it. She runs our house every day," said Carlson. "I'm on a lot of medication now. The medication often makes me tired. Makes me nauseous."
The Creedmoor Police Department and community are rallying around the 45-year-old as the days become more difficult.
"Having a long family history battling this long dreaded disease, it takes the air out of you. Then you regroup and you figure out how to fight forward," said Creedmoor Police Chief Keith King.
The department held a quarter auction and motorcycle ride honoring him for 24 years of selfless service, but to also help him pay for medication.
"It's unexpected and to have that is overwhelming and it's so appreciated because it helps us get through this fight," said Krista.
This community is getting the rare opportunity to return the favor for a public servant who even in the face of stage four lung cancer is eager to get back in good health so he can continue to protect and serve.
"I can fight cancer. It means just that and I'm going to win," he said.