We all remember the tragic date of September 11th, 2001 when the World Trade Centers were brought to the ground. Sadly, many of the heroes who selflessly saved as many lives as possible continue to be diagnosed with severe forms of cancer, many of which they will die from.
As many as 1,140 cancer cases of 9/11 workers were reported last year. The numbers have continued to grow and have now reached 2,518 when firefighters and EMT’s are accounted for. Many of these individuals are suffering from inoperable forms of cancer.
As reported by the New York Post, a retired FDNY captain, now 63, “toiled non-stop at Ground Zero for a week after 9/11, and months in all, recently received a $1.5 million award from the federal 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for lung disease and inoperable pancreatic cancer.”
VCF Special Master Sheila Birnbaum had his case expedited due to the fact that he was not expected to live much longer. On 9/11 he commandeered a city bus in an effort to get the Brooklyn Bridge closed so that it could be used for emergency vehicles.
“I knew that day that a lot of us would get sick,” he said. “I’m hoping they rush more cases like mine, where we’re not expected to last long.”
Birnbaum used to be a healthy and fit 6-foot-2 firefighter that weighed 240 pounds. Now he weighs a measly 160 as a result of extensive chemotherapy and radiation. To date, the VCF has awarded $50.5 million, ranging in totals of $400,000 to $4.1 million.
WTC epidemiologists noted “that 9/11 workers have gotten certain cancers at a significantly higher rate than expected in the normal population — prostate, thyroid, leukemia and multiple myeloma.”
One question remains, should there be a larger compensation program for 9/11 response workers and their families? While many of the workers have been awarded large sums of money, they have lost the ability to enjoy their lives and in many cases, they will lose their lives. While 9/11 is a tragedy, it is important to appreciate the sacrifices of these selfless human beings who are paying the price over a decade later for their hard work and dedication.
Photo credit: mylifemycomedy.com