I remember being 14 years old and standing on top of the South Tower and feeling like I was literally on top of the world. My girls ask me what it was like and it is very hard to put into words other then to say that it was invigorating and somehow hopeful to think that man could create such an unbelievable piece of architecture that I was able to be a part of. I still remember it like it was yesterday.
First Responders Remember 9-11 Through the Eyes of Illness
Eleven years after 9-11, many first responders are persistently ill and say they worry that cancer is looming.
"It weighs very heavy, when I wake up in the morning and I don't feel well, the first thing that goes through my mind is 'Oh, I got cancer." - Retired NYPD detective Glen Klein, 54, who worked more than 800 hours at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.Exactly how many first responders suffer from cancer is still unclear. Last September in the first major cancer study of firefighters who worked at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks, it was discovered that first responders were 19% more likely to have cancer than those who weren't there.
Ruling to Come on The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act Will Answer Cancer Question
Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is soon expected to issue a final rule on which cancers will be covered under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, enacted January 2011.
Under the Zadroga law, $2.8 billion was set aside to compensate people made ill by exposure to toxins at the 9-11 site. Another $1.5 billion has been allocated over five years to fund the World Trade Center Health Program, which treats and monitors about 40,000 first responders.
Last June Howard issued a proposed rule expanding the list of illnesses associated with Ground Zero exposure to include about 50 cancers. Still, all cancers will not be covered although it is expected that respiratory and blood cancers will be.
First Responders Just Want to Live
Forty nine year old Chris Baumann, a city police officer in the traffic division who worked at Ground Zero on 9/11, has already had precancerous polyps in his colon and granulomas in his thyroid.
"Things keep popping up,"Baumann said. "I'm always waiting for the big 'C' when I go to see the doctor."
Knowing cancer would be covered under Zadroga would give first responders like him a measure of peace I think he certainly deserves.
"I'm not looking to get rich," he said. "I just want to live."
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