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The Cancers Left Out in the Cold

Now that prostate cancer has been added to the list of illnesses covered by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, those afflicted with cancers not yet recognized as 9/11-related may feel a renewed hope that their form of cancer may follow suit.

Unfortunately, for some forms of cancer, even if that recognition comes, it is likely to come too late. Pancreatic cancer, in particular, usually cannot be detected until it is in an advanced state and tends to spread rapidly even after detected, making it one of the most deadly forms of the disease.

On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a woman who lost her firefighter fiancé in the disaster turned her attention from mourning her loved one to frustration over the pancreatic cancer of a beloved friend and advocate. Tanya Villanueva Tepper published a heartbreaking story of New York firefighter Captain John Graziano, a member of the fire company to which her fiancé belonged. Graziano, she said, was a rock of support for her and other grieving families of the lost men during the weeks, months and years following the attacks, even as he spent countless hours himself working on the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero.

Now, she said, Graziano has been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, despite years of regular screenings by the WTC Health Program. The program performs medical monitoring for responders and survivors, but only provides treatment if they develop an illness recognized as 9/11-related, such as:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Asthma and other respiratory disorders
  • Digestive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Secondary conditions related to covered illnesses

So if Captain Graziano had developed, for example, carpal tunnel syndrome or chronic acid reflux, he might have been eligible for free healthcare. But pancreatic cancer: no.

Tanya Villanueva Tepper expressed anger and despair over the situation, but holds on to her hope that efforts to add pancreatic cancer to the 9/11 list might be successful — and that her friend Captain Graziano can hang in there long enough to reap the benefits.

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  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation

    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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Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

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Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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