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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A sad anniversary

Cancer Connection to 9/11 Dust Is No Surprise
Sept. 11, 2012

When the doctor diagnosed me with kidney cancer this past spring, I wasn't surprised, not one bit. I had known it was coming for nearly 11 years.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I watched from my living room window as terrorists drove the second plane into the south tower of the World Trade Center. I will never forget how the plane disintegrated into the side of the building and then shortly after, tiny dots began shooting outward into the sky. Those dots were people falling and jumping from the top floors and as I looked closer, I could make out skirts and ties flying up over their heads and shoes slipping from their feet.

I felt I had to do something.

I ran out of my apartment and down the street until I saw an ambulance and some EMTs. When I offered to help, an EMT simply handed me a pair of latex gloves and told me to start assessing the condition of people sitting and lying on the ground.

Just as I was helping a woman named Linda who was having trouble breathing into the ambulance, one of the EMTs abruptly grabbed my arm. Without explanation, he hauled me up the street and threw me against the side of a building. I didn't have time to think about what was happening. Then everything went black.

Suddenly, all the air was gone. In its place was a black, viscous solid. It was so thick I couldn't pull it into my lungs. It was like trying to breathe underwater. After a few desperate seconds I thought to peel off one of my latex gloves, place it over my mouth and hyperventilate into it.

Eventually the EMT and I felt our way along the buildings, broke into a card shop and were able to find better air.

Over the years I've thought a lot about that black sludge. I realized immediately it would be a problem. When I reunited with my husband several hours after the attacks and we walked out of lower Manhattan, I remember telling him that this would come back and bite me in the ass someday. Even then, I was sure of it.

So despite living a healthy lifestyle and have no family history, the cancer diagnosis was not unexpected. I didn't know when it would come but I knew that it would...
9/11 health program to cover 50 types of cancer; Stricken responders get enhanced coverage

NEW YORK - The federal government has added about 50 types of cancer to the list of Sept. 11 World Trade Center-related illnesses that will be covered by a program to pay for health coverage.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety announced the change Monday, the eve of the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The publication of this final rule marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors through the WTC Health Program, NIOSH director Dr. John Howard said in a statement.

The institute said last June that it favored expanding the existing $4.3 billion Sept. 11 health program to include people with more than 50 types of cancer. That move followed years of lobbying by construction workers, firefighters, police officers, office cleaners and others who fell ill in the decade after the terror attack, which destroyed the 110-story twin towers, spewing toxic dust.

NIOSH acted after an advisory committee made up of doctors, union officials and community advocates recommended that cancer be added. Previously, the aid effort had covered only people with mostly less-serious ailments, including asthma, acid reflux disease and chronic sinus irritation...

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