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Fifteen Years after 9/11, Responders Continue to Suffer and Cope

In September, the nation observed the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center. But while observance of the event is important, recognition of how responders and survivors continue to suffer is more important still. In its anniversary coverage, ABC News highlighted two responders, FDNY firefighter Ray Pfeifer and former NYPD detective Glen Klein, whose stories are emblematic of the struggles so many responders face today.

Pfeifer, stationed with Engine 40 and Ladder 35 on the Upper West Side, had planned to enjoy an off-day playing golf, but responded to the emergency, arriving in lower Manhattan after the towers had fallen. He worked determinedly on rescue and recovery efforts for weeks, then months, on the still-smoldering ruins. Pfeifer and the people he worked with developed what they term “World Trade Center Cough.” Eight years later, at age 48, Pfeifer began to feel a sharp pain in his hip, which was determined to be stage 4 renal cancer. The normally slow-growing cancer had rapidly produced several tumors throughout his body, including a lump in his hip the size of a tennis ball. Now 56, Pfeifer often visits his old firehouse. With tumors in his brain, lung and lymph nodes, Pfeifer realizes he’s carrying “terminal cancer,” but holds out hope for 15 more years.

Klein served at Ground Zero for 800 hours and now suffers with asthma, severe arthritis and post-traumatic stress disorder. He would like to see more conditions, like heart disease and arthritis, added to the list of 9/11 conditions covered under the Zadroga Act, so that survivors do not have to pay for expensive medications out of pocket.

As attorneys for 9/11 responders and survivors, we would like to see every 9/11-related illness recognized and addressed. Much has been done, but even after 15 years, much more work lies ahead.

If you are suffering from a post-9/11 illness, contact the experienced attorneys who have represented 9/11 survivors from the outset. Call Barasch, McGarry, Salzman & Penson at 888-351-9421 or contact our office online.

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      There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

      For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

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