HILLSDALE, N.J. — Patrolman Corey Rooney was sworn in as Hillsdale’s newest police officer Tuesday night to the cheers of more than 100 supporters -- no small feat for a public servant who's beaten Hodgkin’s lymphoma not once but twice.
Rooney, 24, of Westwood worked as a Hillsdale dispatcher the past three years.
“In the beginning, I questioned, Why me?” Rooney said of his cancer . “But then I took my illness as a positive because it led me to where I am today.
“The second time around, I was working here as a dispatcher,” he added. “The guys rallied around me, helped me out. They are one of the main reasons I’m alive today. They kept my spirits high.”
Cancer has made a difference in the way he views life, said Rooney.
He appreciates everything more, he said, and takes it personally when he sees anyone suffering for any reason.
“I try to help them out in any way possible,” he said, adding that he mentored two high school friends who also have Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Both are in remission.
Life experiences also will make a difference in the way he polices.
“I want to start something called ‘Cops for Cancer’ in this area,” Rooney explained. “Whether I’m working or not, I can go to a school or Hackensack University Medical Center in Westwood and be in uniform.
“I can be a role model to kids who may be sick,” he explained. “If they see me, maybe they’ll say to themselves, 'He was sick. He had cancer. And look at him -- he’s a police officer'.”
Rooney’s aspirations for the future are to stay healthy and make the community proud.
After three years working dispatch, he knows the area and its residents and merchants.
“I know I can have a great impact on the people here,” said the Westwood High School graduate, who studied criminal justice at Bergen Community College.
Before working in Hillsdale, Rooney was a Class II special officer in Hoboken and then a Class I special officer in Westwood.