On April 8, more than 50 firefighters stood outside Ladder 43’s firehouse in Spanish Harlem to salute a passing hearse, carrying the remains of retired firefighter James Lanza, who succumbed to brain cancer stemming from his service at Ground Zero. Jimmy Lanza, 71, of Woodside, Queens, was the tenth FDNY veteran to die from a 9/11-related cancer this year.
According to the New York Daily News, “Lanza was part of the team that ran into the World Trade Center’s destroyed north tower after two hijacked jumbo jets slammed into the twin towers.” The team managed to pull 16 survivors out of the “miracle stairwell” to safety. Lanza also served in the recovery efforts, which he described in an interview with the Steele County Times: “When we found a body part or a body, we would put it on the stretcher, cover it with the American flag and march it out with honor to a temporary morgue that the city had set up.…The rewarding part of that…it may sound crazy to somebody else… was that we knew we were giving closure to a family member or a parent or a daughter.”
Lanza retired from the FDNY in 2007, but seemed to have found a second career helping firefighters and their families cope with post-9/11 health issues. He helped sick and terminally ill firefighters with the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation. But Lanza himself was diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer in November 2016. Two more members of the FDNY community also died in April: retired EMS Lt. Mario Bastidas passed on April 1, and retired Firefighter Roy Smith died the day after Lanza.
With the passage of time, cancers and other diseases with longer latency periods have become more prominent among 9/11 responders and survivors. Although the World Trade Center Health Program has added numerous cancers to its lists of 9/11-related conditions, it’s possible that many cancer patients are not making that connection. That means many eligible 9/11 survivors are not getting the health screenings, treatment and benefits they deserve.
At Barasch & McGarry, we want to see every 9/11 responder and survivor adequately compensated and cared for. If you are suffering from an acute or chronic illness that might be 9/11-related, we urge you to contact our experienced Zadroga Act benefits attorneys. We have represented 9/11 survivors from the outset. Call us at 888-351-9421 or contact our office online.