GOSHEN, Ohio – Cindy Fields' son bravely ran into their burning home in an heroic effort to save his grandmother and his dog.
He burned more than 60 percent of his body, had to be induced into a month-long coma, and lived with the scars for years.
But she says her son couldn't live with the anguish that came when his grandmother died a week after he pulled her out of the fire. Or when his dog perished in the blaze.
Michael Anthony Fields turned to heroin and died of an overdose.
Now Fields is determined to turn her son's death into a push for life, a boost for those struggling with heroin, an inspiration to act.
"He was bashful, shy -- but once you got to know him, he had a heart of gold," Fields says of her son.
"The pain, the suffering … he was hurting bad."
In 2008, an electrical fire ravaged their home.
"He ran up the stairs and got his grandmother out and then went down to get his dog out," Fields says. "Grandma went back in, so he ran back up the steps. The dog came back in and he got grandma out just in time."
Michael received a certificate of heroism from the Blue Ash Fire Department, but his burns were so bad, doctors put him in a coma.
"He had a lot of issues dealing with the burns," his mother said, "and then after he woke up I had to explain to him that his grandma passed a week later.
"It was horrible."
"The doctors would give him medicine, but it just didn't help him … It was like a bunch of demons in his body that he couldn't deal with," she said.
Michael turned to heroin, and then there were more demons. His mother said he tried to fight.
"He showed me his arms – 'Look, Mom. I'm free. I'm clear. I'm doing great,'" she said.
The next day, he was dead.
That was last November. An officer knocked on the door.
"He said, 'Can I have a seat?'
"I hit the ground," she said. "I miss him so much."
His 17-year-old brother does, too.
"It's not the same," he says.
Cindy Fields doesn't want Michael to have died in vain. She is joining with others in the Goshen War on Heroin to share her son's story and hopefully save a life.
"If we can all just bond together - this is a group nobody wants to join - if we can go help get one person to get off of this, that's all I want."
She wants people to come to the Goshen War on Heroin meeting on Feb. 2.
Go to their Facebook page for more information.