Sunday, April 13, 2008

To Die Trying? 9/11 Community Health Forum Highlights the Struggle for Proper Health Care

Jenna Orkin*

The 9/11 Community Health Forum at Borough of Manhattan Community College today presented graphic testimony about illnesses suffered not only by Ground Zero workers but also by residents, students and office workers in Lower Manhattan.

Organized by the Beyond Ground Zero Network and 9/11 Environmental Action, the forum opened with the testimony of Lea Geronimo, 37, an office worker who has suffered multiple cysts and uterine lesions causing bleeding that has sometimes lasted a month. Other affected panelists included Craig Hall, 39, who said that when he mentioned to a small gathering downtown that his wife had had a cyst on her thyroid, four other people in the room reported the same complaint.

These two examples alone hint at the broad spectrum of symptoms beyond the respiratory that are being exhibited by people exposed to what some are calling the 'toxic air' of 9/11. In addition, cancers, particularly of the circulatory system, are also appearing in abundance among Ground Zero workers as well as in another panelist, Stuyvesant High School alumnus, Amit Friedlander.

Last to testify to the panel of doctors and government officials was Joseph Zadroga whose son, Detective James Zadroga, died in 2006 of World Trade Center-related illness at the age of 34.

For several years, Joseph Zadroga has been a tireless advocate for sick workers, describing his son's "slow death" while the City stonewalled his efforts to get medical treatment and financial compensation. This writer remembers the father's early testimony that when Jimmy died with his daughter sleeping next to him, Joseph broke the news to the child whose mother had also recently died, partly from the stress of taking care of her sick husband. Young Tyleranne said, "I knew he was sick; I just didn't know it would be this fast." She was four years old.

At the forum this afternoon Zadroga Senior added a new detail to the story: When Jimmy was too tired to take phone calls from bureaucrats, his father would impersonate him. In one such call, a hospital administrator asked how he was doing. Zadroga answered, "I feel like biting the bullet," police-speak for committing suicide. The administrator encouraged him to talk to someone. Zadroga answered he didn't feel like it; he intended to "bite the bullet" that afternoon. The administrator told him to have a nice day and hung up.

The open mic portion of the forum offered more searing stories: Of children who've never known a life free of medication; of a mother who unknowingly endangered her child by not recognizing that his symptoms represented asthma. A number of community members spoke in tears, reminding this writer of the meetings at Stuyvesant High School in the fall of 2001 when parents pleaded to the Board of Education who responded that the stories were 'mere anecdotes.' (Our response: "So do a study. Be our guest.")

Also in attendance at today's forum was John Feal, who lost part of his foot doing rescue and recovery at Ground Zero. His Fealgood foundation has donated over $200,000 to needy Ground Zero workers as a result of which, several months ago, Feal got a call from a worker who needed a new kidney. The worker, Paul Grossfeld, asked Feal if he'd post a notice on his website.

Feal responded No, but he'd give Grossfeld his kidney.

The kidney was not compatible so Feal donated it to a woman whose husband then donated his kidney. That one was also incompatible but went to still another woman whose husband's kidney then went to Grossfeld.

As often happens at these events, the community, supported by messages from Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Senator Hillary Clinton, transcended their individual tragedies to attain heights of eloquence. But the news was ultimately discouraging. Like the Mt. Sinai program for Ground Zero workers, the Centers for Excellence that treat the community seem to rely unduly on steroids. While localized in effect, these nonetheless treat symptoms rather than underlying causes which, doctors in the field acknowledge, they understand little about.

*Jenna Orkin has connections too numerous to describe to the organizers and participants in today's event.


FTW admin said...

The following comment came in the form of an email from a firefighter who requested that he be fully identified. He is John McNamara, Engine 234, Crown Heights:

"9/11 related stage 4 colon/liver stomach cancer...tumor in nodules in lungs and lymph nodes involved as well as a new mass growing in my rectum...almost 2 years of chemo,4 surgeries and radiation...served with the fdny for 2 months down there...lots of guys getting diagnosed with different cancers,pancreatic,leukemias,melanoma,thyroid,etc..."

johnny said...

Unrelated comment on 2008 Perspective at FTW:

It was a breath of fresh air to read Michael’s writing again.
He’s been such a tremendous inspiration. His hard work and dedication has always been very admirable.

And through this inspiration I have created a blog called "51 Reasons to Say No To Global Governance". Today’s post are my thoughts on a correlation I saw of Michael’s FTW investigative discovery work and the foresight that John Walvoord, a Christian Theologian wrote, back in the 70’s, in regards to Geopolitics and Oil.

I wanted to share it with you.


Rice Farmer said...

Daniel Sunjata of "Rescue Me" Speaks Out On 911 Truth

But actually, except for a brief statement by Sunjata at the beginning, almost all this video is our very own MCR laying out a powerful case!

Rice Farmer said...

I see you New Yorkers will now have calories posted along with prices on restaurant menus. But I think New Yorkers will soon have the opposite problem: instead of worrying about getting too many calories, they'll be wondering where their next meal is coming from. Do the NYC authorities really believe that massive shipments of high-calorie food will continue coming to their city?

Zena said...

for those in NYC: every Wed.from 5;30-7:30 PM, we offer acupuncture at the University Settlement House, 184 Eldridge St, corner of Rivington. We accept donations to cover the service but noone will be turned away for lack of funds.
Contact wendy: 212 243 0025 or

We hope the little bit we offer helps,unfortunately the large-scale "9-11" health programs have chosen NOT to include acupuncture as a treatment option.