A 9/11 first responder’s final message


IT TO YOU IMMEDIATELY. NOW, AN AMERICAN HERO’S FINAL INTERVIEW. THAT’S HOW HE DESCRIBED IT TO US ON THE PHONE. AS I REPORTED, LUIS ALVAREZ RUSHED INTO THE TWIN TOWERS AFTER THEY WERE ATTACKED. AUTHORITIES ASSURED THE WORLD THE AIR IS SAFE. HE BREATHED IN WHAT WE KNOW IS TOXIC DUST. WHILE HE DUG THROUGH THE PILES OF DEBRIS SEARCHING FOR VICTIMS. YESTERDAY NEARLY 18 YEARS LATER AFTER 68 ROUNDS OF CHEMOTHERAPY, DOCTORS TOLD HIM THERE’S NOTHING ELSE THAT THEY CAN DO TO FIGHT HIS STAGE 4 CANCER. LAST WEEK LUIS WENT WITH COMEDIAN AND ACTIVIST JON STEWART AND OTHER FIRST RESPONDERS TO CAPITOL HILL TO URGE AGAIN LAWMAKERS TO PROVIDE LONG-TERM FUNDING FOR THE 9-11 VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND.>>WE WENT TO GROUND ZERO OF THE PENTAGON AND SHANKSVILLE TO HELP PEOPLE FIRST AND THEN HELP THEIR FAMILIES BURY SOMEONE OR SOMETHING. YOU MADE ME COME DOWN HERE THE DAY BEFORE MY 69th ROUND OF CHEMO. I’M GOING TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU NEVER FORGET TO TAKE CARE OF THE 9-11 RESPONDERS.>>Shepard: HE NEVER FINISHED THAT 69th ROUND OF CHEMO. YESTERDAY LUIS POSTED ON FACEBOOK THAT DURING HIS TREATMENT, NURSES NOTICED HE WAS DISORIENTED AND DISCOVERED HIS LIVER WAS SHUTTING DOWN. ALL TREATMENTS STOPPED. LUIS ALVAREZ IS NOW IN HOSPICE CARE. HE SAID HE WANTS TO DO THIS ONE LAND INTERVIEW TO ADVOCATE FOR HIS FELLOW 9-11 RESPONDERS. HE WROTE ON FACEBOOK, “I WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT UNTIL THE GOOD LORD DECIDES ITS TIME. PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES AND EACH OTHER. STILL HERE, STILL BREATHING. STILL FIGHTING.” WITH US NOW FROM LONG ISLAND, FIRST RESPONDER, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE, AMERICAN HERO, LUIS ALVAREZ AND HIS SON, DAVID. LUIS, THANKS SO MUCH. SUCH AN HONOR FOR YOU TO BE HERE WITH US. ARE YOUR CARE GIVERS MAKING YOU COMFORTABLE?>>YES, SHEP. GOOD TO BE HERE. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. I’M DOING WELL. I’M COMFORTABLE. I’M NOT IN A LOT OF PAIN. I HAVE MY FAMILY SURROUNDING ME. I’M AT PEACE.>>Shepard: WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR VIEWERS ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR LAST CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR DOCTORS?>>WELL, WHAT HAPPENED WAS WHEN I WENT FOR MY LAST ROUND OF CHEMO, THEY NOTICED THAT I WAS DISORIENTED. I DIDN’T KNOW THE DATE, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HOSPITAL I WAS IN. I COULDN’T ANSWER SIMPLE QUESTIONS OF WHAT YEAR IT WAS AND STUFF LIKE THAT. THE DOCTORS SENT ME TO TEST. THEY REALIZED THAT MY LIVER HAD FINALLY SHUT DOWN. MY BOD WAS FILLING UP WITH AMMONIA. THAT IS WHAT WAS MAKING ME FEEL DISORIENTED.>>Shepard: LIFE’S FINAL CURTAIN IS HARD FOR EVERYONE. I WONDER AS YOU REFLECT ON YOUR LIFE WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE OUR VIEWERS TO KNOW ABOUT IT. WHAT YOU LOOK BACK AND SAID THAT WAS IMPORTANT OR THAT REALLY MATTERS.>>WELL, I HAVE NO REGRETS. NO REGRETS WHATSOEVER. 9-11 HAPPENED. WE GOT CALLED DOWN. IT’S MY JOB AS AN NYPD DETECTIVE TO RESPOND TO EMERGENCIES. NO HESITATION. WENT DOWN, SPENT ABOUT THREE MONTHS DOWN THERE DOING THE BUCKET BRIGADE, DOING ROOFTOP DETAIL, TRYING TO FIND REMAINS. I DID WORK WITH EVERYBODY. I’M NOBODY SPECIAL. I DID WHAT ALL THE OTHER GUYS DID. NOW WE’RE PAYING THE PRICE FOR IT.>>Shepard: I’D ARGUE THAT ALL OF YOU ARE SPECIAL. I’D ARGUE THAT EVERY PERSON THAT SERVES HIS FELLOW MAN IS SPECIAL AND DESERVING OF HONOR AS YOU ARE TODAY. BUT YOU CALLED US SAYING THAT YOU WANT TO MAKE ONE LAST STATEMENT.>>WE NEED TO GO FAST. GO QUICKLY, EFFICIENTLY SO WE DON’T HAVE TO GO TO WASHINGTON AGAIN AND LOBBY. IT’S NOT — I’VE BEEN BLESSED. I GOT SICK 16 YEARS AFTER THE FACT. MY SON, DAVID, HE WAS 11 YEARS OLD ON 9-11. HE’S 29 YEARS OLD NOW. I’M LEAVING HIM WITHOUT A FATHER. I HAVE TWO OTHER SONS, TYLER AND BEN, WHO ARE 19 AND 14. I’M LEAVING THEM WITHOUT A FATHER. THERE’S PLENTY LIKE ME. LIKE I SAID, I’M NOT SPECIAL. THERE’S PLENTY GUYS LIKE ME. OKAY? I GOT SICK 16 YEARS AFTER THE FACT. THERE’S WORKERS OUT THERE THAT SAY THIS ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME. I’M OKAY. THE TIME HAS PASSED. THE TIME DOESN’T — IS NOT GOING TO PASS. THERE’S GOING TO BE MORE AND MORE AND MORE RESPONDERS GETTING SICK. I JUST WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT SICK NOW DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET SICK. YOU NEED TO BE COVERED. I’M LUCKY TO HAVE THE HEALTHCARE THAT I GOT. A LOT OF GUYS DON’T HAVE IT. PLENTY OF PEOPLE THAT IN TERMS OF GOING THROUGH THE STRESS OF FIGHTING CANCER, THEY’RE ALSO FIGHTING THE FINANCIAL STRESS OF THE HEALTHCARE. IT’S NOT RIGHT. YOU KNOW, WE SERVED OUR CITY, OUR STATE, OUR COUNTRY. SHOULD BE COMPENSATED FOR IT. NOT COMPENSATED IN THE SENSE THAT, YOU KNOW, WE WANT TO BE RICH. WE JUST WANT THE MONEY TO BE THERE FOR OUR FAMILIES SO THAT GOD FORBID THAT THEY DO GET SICK, THEY’RE COVERED. THEY HAVE THE HEALTH INSURANCE, THEY HAVE THE FUNDS TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES. GOD FORBID THAT THEY GET SICK AND DIE. THAT’S WHAT I’M ADVOCATING FOR. OKAY? WE DID OUR JOB. CONGRESS HAS TO DO THEIRS. OKAY? WE WERE TOLD THE AIR WAS SAFE DOWN THERE. IT WASN’T. YOU KNOW WHAT? THAT DOESN’T MATTER. BECAUSE WE WOULD HAVE WENT IN ANY WAY. THAT’S WHAT WE DO. IT’S NOT A JOB. IT’S A CALLING. OKAY? WE WOULD HAVE WENT IN ANY WAY. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.>>Shepard: YOU SPENT A LIFETIME PROTECTING AND SERVING AND SUDDENLY YOU’RE NOW AN ADVOCATE FULL TIME. HOW IS THAT TRANSITIONING AND WHAT HAS THIS EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?>>IT’S BEEN A LISTEN OVERWHELMING. I’M A HUMBLE UNDER-THE-RADAR KIND OF GUY TO HAVE ALL OF THIS ATTENTION IS A LITTLE STRANGE. BUT I’LL DO WHATEVER I HAVE TO DO TO SEE MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS THAT AREN’T COVERED GET THE COVERAGE THAT THEY NEED. AND THE HELP THAT THEY NEED. I WANT TO TELL ALL THE FIRST RESPONDERS IF YOU THINK IT CAN’T HAPPEN TO YOU, JUST TAKE A LOOK AT ME. OKAY? 16 YEARS LATER I GOT SICK. IT’S AN EPIDEMIC. MORE AND MORE FIRST RESPONDERS GETTING SICK. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS TO TAKE CARE OF THEM. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF DECENCY, A MATTER OF DOING THE RIGHT THING. WE DID THE RIGHT THING WHEN WE WENT DOWN THERE. NOW IT’S THE GOVERNMENT’S TURN TO DO THE RIGHT THING BY US. OKAY? TAKE CARE OF THE FIRST RESPONDERS THAT ARE SICK. EASE THEIR LIVES A LITTLE BIT. GOING THROUGH THIS CANCER IS STRESSFUL. NOT JUST ON ME, ON MY WHOLE FAMILY. VERY STRESSFUL. WE NEED TO EASE THE STRESS OF FIRST RESPONDERS. LET THEM KNOW THAT THEY’RE NOT ALONE. THE GOVERNMENT IS HERE TO BACK THEM UP, TO GIVE THEM THE SUPPORT THEIR NEED, THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT THAT THEY’RE GOING TO NEED WHEN THEY GET SICK. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME. YOU KNOW, IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE WE GET SICK.>>Shepard: LUIS, AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT AND AS SITUATIONS HAVE DICTATED, YOU WILL NO BE A HISTORICAL FIGURE, ESPECIALLY IN THIS CITY. AND I WONDER WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT LUIS ALVAREZ OF NEW YORKIST FINEST, WHAT YOU’D LIKE FOR THEM TO SAY ABOUT YOU.>>I WANT THEM TO SAY THAT I FOUGHT FOR FIRST RESPONDERS. IT’S NOT JUST THE NEW YORK FAMILY. DIDN’T JUST HAPPEN IN NEW YORK. AS A BOMB TECHNICIAN, I TRAVELED AROUND THE COUNTRY, TRAINING AND WITH OTHER DEPARTMENTS. I WOULD TALK TO GUYS THAT WERE LIKE HEY, I GOT THIS COUGH. I DON’T FEEL GOOD. THESE ARE GUYS FROM ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO, CALIFORNIA. WHEN 9-11 HAPPENED, THEY CAME. THAT’S WHAT WE DO. NOT JUST NEW YORK, ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES. THEY ALL SHOWED UP. SO IT’S NOT A NEW YORK THING. IT’S A COUNTRY THING. THERE’S GOES IN OTHER STATES AND OTHER CITIES THAT ARE SICK. THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY. I WANT THEM TO KNOW, HEY, IF YOU WERE AT GROUND ZERO OR SHANKSVILLE OR THE LANDFILL, GET YOURSELF CHECKED OUT. YOU COULD BE SICK FROM GROUND ZERO.>>Shepard: LUIS, WE’RE HONORED TO KNOW YOU AND THANKS TO YOUR FAMILY AND ALL THE BEST AND ALL THE LOVE TO YOU. GREAT HONOR. THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR CITY AND OUR NATION.>>MY PLEASURE.>>Shepard: LUIS ALVAREZ. AT THIS HOUR, AT THE 9-11 VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND IS RUNNING OUT OF MONEY AND THOSE LIKE LUIS SUFFER, LAWMAKERS ARE STILL SQUABBLING ABOUT WHAT TO DO. THE BILL TO EXTEND THE FUND IS IN LIMBO ON CAPITOL HILL. LAWMAKERS ARE UNABLE TO WORK OUT THE DETAILS. OUR SENIOR PRODUCER FROM CAPITOL HILL SAYS IT’S UNLIKELY LAWMAKERS WILL DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT BEFORE THEY GO ON THEIR JULY FOURTH BREAK. OF COURSE, THEY COULD. THEY COULD RESOLVE THEIR DIFFERENCES AND PASS THIS BILL RIGHT AWAY. LUIS ALVAREZ AND THOUSANDS OF OTHERS WOULD THANK THEM. IT’S ESTIMATED THE NUMBER OF

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