This story has been updated to correct a mistake that appeared in the original version. Officer Stephen Grogan passed away Tuesday morning.
Pensacola Police Department Officer Stephen Grogan died at his home Tuesday morning surrounded by family members, following an on-and-off battle with brain cancer.
The 34-year-old, who is survived by his two young sons and his wife, Christina, was first diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2017. He underwent brain surgery that year to have the tumor partially removed.
In January 2019, a maintenance MRI revealed that Grogan’s glioblastoma had returned. He was told then that he had less than a year to live.
PPD spokesman Officer Mike Wood said a funeral procession Tuesday morning was led by PPD officers who escorted Grogan from his home in Gulf Breeze to a funeral home in Pensacola.
On Facebook, the PPD posted a tribute to honor Grogan.
“We were hopeful,” the post reads. “We wanted nothing more than for our brother to get well and re-join us on the street.”
The PPD said funeral arrangements for Grogan are still pending.
The Facebook post added the following about Grogan:
“Stephen was a dedicated father, husband, and son, who wrung more living out of this last year than many do in a lifetime. He was a Marine and Pensacola Police Officer because he could not escape the need to serve others.
Hundreds of you came out to fundraisers, donated money, bought hats, and sent encouragement. Stephen and Christina were able to make years of memories with their sons because of your generosity. We cannot thank you enough for that.
Stephen, we have the watch. Rest easy.”
Over the last year, countless drives and fundraisers were held for Grogan and his family as the “Grogan Strong” mantra became a region-wide rally cry.
It was a movement that materialized in the form of T-shirts, social media posts and total makeovers of the famed Graffiti Bridge as heartbroken residents banded together and prayed for a miraculous recovery.
“I’m really a typically prideful guy, I don’t like to take off my hat and just say ‘Thank you,’ but it’s been incredible,” Grogan told the News Journal in February 2019, amid the public’s embrace. “This is really a thing so much for me as it is for my family, just making things easier for my family.”
For those looking to donate now in Grogan’s honor, the PPD suggests either giving in person at the police station’s front desk or donating online to the Fraternal Order of Police.
People can also donate to a GoFundMe to support Christina Grogan and the couple’s two children. That account had just short of $57,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Grogan served in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2014 as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Within a year of becoming a solo patrol officer with the Pensacola Police Department, he started to experience debilitating headaches.
That led to his eventual diagnosis and then his operation in July 2017, when the surgeon estimated that he had removed about 90% of the tumor.
Grogan underwent rounds of chemotherapy and medical scans following surgery, and he returned to duty, a feat that didn’t surprise his wife based on the iron will she saw her husband demonstrate during his initial bout with the aggressive form of brain cancer.
“He rode his bike from our house in Gulf Breeze to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola on his last day of radiation,” Christina Grogan told the News Journal last year. “He walked in there in one of those skin-tight biking outfits for his last round of radiation. So, he’s someone that is always pushing the limits and always fighting.”
Grogan was nearly fully recovered when a seizure in October 2017 set him back. He stopped working for six months before once again rallying and returning to duty.
But in July 2018, Grogan suffered another seizure. After that, he moved to the training and accreditation office, where he managed, ordered and issued equipment and property, such as weapons, ammunition, uniforms and more, to PPD officers.
After learning in January 2019 that the glioblastoma had returned, Grogan and his wife flew to Houston and explored the possibility of brain tumor clinical trials, which are research studies done to devise medical strategies or treatments.
Grogan even briefly considered another route — a Duke University in North Carolina treatment program that involves injecting the polio virus into the brain tumor in an effort to neutralize it — but he learned he didn’t qualify for the procedure.
Friends, relatives, business owners, fellow law enforcement and military members and even perfect strangers inundated Grogan with support when his cancer returned last year.
“I have guys texting me, day in and day out, middle of the night, 3 in the morning, saying, ‘I’m free on Saturday if you need any work done around your house, give me a call,’ ” Stephen Grogan said in 2019.
The Grogans continued to explore options until last month, when Christina Grogan shared an update on her husband’s status in a Facebook post published by the Ladies of Law Enforcement based out of Crestview.
Christina Grogan said they had visited UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital in Gainesville, where they learned Stephen was not eligible for any clinical trials or any other treatments.
She announced at that time that her husband would begin hospice treatment from the couple’s home in Gulf Breeze.
In a press release sent out by the PPD on Tuesday afternoon, PPD Chief Tommi Lyter said, “I’m proud of the community we live in. They showed a huge amount of concern and support to us and Officer Grogan’s family, and it is appreciated more than they can ever know.”