We lived close enough to the site that when the planes hit, I stood on our avenue and watched our national nightmare begin. Jesse was stuck in the Bronx that night, staying with friends from school, but over the months afterward we were all experiencing smoke and dust in the house, on the street, everywhere. The Armory right near us was a base for the responders. My younger son wore a face mask every day until the fires had died down, but I don't think Jesse did, especially after the first few days. I don't know how close he ever went to the site, I don't even know if he ever went down and volunteered. It'd be just like him to do that and never let on to anyone what he'd done to help.
If what Mt. Sinai suspects is true, and more and more people are going to be contracting plasma cell cancers, including APL, then New York and New Jersey need to know the symptoms of leukemia so they can get early treatment. Our doctors in Chicago called it the "good" cancer because there is a cure. The hitch is, if you don't catch it in the first week or so, you die of it. Jesse first noticed possible symptoms of a relapse around January 9th. He didn't go to the hospital until January 16th. Could that week have saved his life? I'll never know, but you can bet that I'm going to find a way to make sure Jesse's story saves someone else's life if that's at all possible.
Third wave of ills from WTC seen
Mount Sinai docs fear new cancers
BY JORDAN LITE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, May 31st 2007, 4:00 AM
Responders to the 9/11 terror attacks could face a devastating "third wave" of illnesses - blood and lymphatic cancers - related to their exposure to Ground Zero air, says the director of the largest treatment program for those workers.
Though many scientists have cautioned that it's too soon to link cancers to toxins at the site, doctors at Mount Sinai's World Trade Center medical monitoring program are now seeing surprising cases of plasma-cell cancers in people who were there, said Dr. Robin Herbert.
"We know we have a handful of cases of multiple myeloma in very young individuals, and multiple myeloma is a condition that almost always presents later in life, so that's the kind of odd, unusual and troubling finding that we're seeing already," Herbert said in an online audio interview in advance of today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Doctors at Mount Sinai are trying to verify cases of leukemia and lymphoma reported by any of the more than 20,000 responders they've examined, she said.
More than 120 people with those cancers are part of a class-action lawsuit alleging negligence by the city and its contractors at Ground Zero, said lawyer David Worby.
"People are afraid of the C-word, cancer. It's taken hundreds of people getting sick this way for Mount Sinai to say, 'We are more than concerned,'" Worby said. "Washington and Mount Sinai should draw up an entire platform of blood tests and precancer tests."
Herbert was unavailable for an interview, but in the Journal she described three waves of post-9/11 illnesses.
The first was the stubborn, dry "World Trade Center cough" stemming from pulverized cement there and seen in the months just after the disaster.
The second wave involves chronic respiratory diseases that cause lung inflammation and scarring.
Cancers could be the third wave among responders exposed to asbestos, dioxins and other carcinogens at Ground Zero, Herbert said.
Although the "full range" of those toxins will never be known, "you really worry when you have a mix of chemicals about the possibility of [a] synergistic effect," she said.