Things That Matter

Three Years After Cancer Diagnoses, Luis Alvarez, A 9/11 First Responder, Dies At 53

On June 11, Jon Stewart testified in front of Congress, and he was pissed. The former “Daily Show” host and fierce advocate of Sept. 11 first responders spoke angrily to the politicians that showed up (not all of them attended). He demanded the government approve funds to pay cancer-stricken first responders and to help families who lost loved ones because of their work in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.

“As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” Stewart said. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress.” He added, “Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak—to no one. Shameful, it’s an embarrassment to this country, and it is a stain on this institution,” Stewart said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves for those who aren’t here, but you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”

One of those sick responders who was there alongside Jon Stewart was Luis Alverez.

Credit: @Bobplaschke / Twitter

The 53-year-old New Yorker and former U.S. Marine and bomb-squad detective for the New York Police Department went to Ground Zero on his own accord to help look for survivors on rooftops of buildings where the towers used to be. His family said that Alverez was working in the area for weeks. According to the New York Daily News, more than 400 first responders worked at Ground Zero, many of them got sick years later. The 9/11 fund was created to help them pay for their medical bills and other needs. Now that fund is running out of money, which is why Stewart went to Congress to plead with them to keep the fund alive because so many are depending on it.

Alverez was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and his disease was linked to the work he did after 9/11.

Facebook/@lou.alvarez.31

“This came about pretty suddenly, without any warning signs,” David Alvarez said in 2017. “My father has always been someone I’ve looked up to (and) been inspired by,” and added, “It hit us hard.”

On May 29, Alvarez said he would stop chemo after 68 rounds.
“I had chemo today, and my blood work was a lot better,” he said on Facebook. “Tumor markers went down a little bit, but I attribute that to the herbal/holistic supplements I started taking. I’ve been doing a lot of research for supplements for liver cancer, just in case, I decided to stop doing chemo. After 68 rounds I’m not getting the results I think I should. Next Wednesday, I have a CT scan, and if it shows no improvement. I’m going to stop chemo and turn to the holistic route. I’m not quitting the battle, just taking a different approach.”

Now, Alvarez, at 53, has died after being in hospice care since he testified in front fo Congress.

Facebook/@lou.alvarez.31

“I just wanted to let you know, what is going on with me,” he said in a Facebook post on June 19th. “Since you have have been with me on this 3-year ride. I’m now in hospice because there is nothing else the doctors can do to fight the cancer. It had nothing to do with my trip to DC, that was just a coincidence. The day after my trip, I was scheduled for chemo, but the nurse noticed I was disoriented. A few tests later, they realized that my liver had completely shut down because of the tumors and wasn’t cleaning out the toxins in my body and it was filling up with ammonia, hence the disorientation. So now I’m resting, and I’m at peace. I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time. I will try to do a few more interviews to keep a light on our fight for the VCF benefits we all justly deserve. Please take care of yourselves and each other.- God Bless-Lou.”

We have to demand Congress to keep fighting for the first responders who did a job so many people could not. They willingly put their lives on the line following the worst terror attack on U.S. soil and we owe them the dignity and respect heroes deserve. It is shameful that the treatment for the ailments they received that day are in question because of a Congress politicizing heroes who gave their lives to help others.

Rest in peace, Luis.

Your bravery will never be forgotten. You were an exceptional person and we thank you for your sacrifices on 9/11.

Watch his moving testimony below.

Click here for more information on the 9/11 First Responders Fund.

Thank you for all you did for our country, Luis. You’re a true hero.

READ: These 19 Celebrities Have Survived Cancer And Continue To Thrive In Their Lives And Careers

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