Luis Alvarez, who recently made an impassioned plea to lawmakers to push for reauthorizing funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, is now in hospice care after a years-long battle with a 9/11-linked cancer.
The former U.S. Marine and bomb-squad detective for the New York Police Department appeared before Congress alongside comedian Jon Stewart on June 11, where he revealed he had undergone 68 rounds of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016. Since then, the 53-year-old has gone through multiple operations to remove portions of his colon, gallbladder and liver, the New York Daily News reported.
His 69th chemotherapy session, Alvarez explained to lawmakers, was scheduled for the very next day.
“I have been to many places in this world and done many things, but I can tell you that I did not want to be anywhere else but ground zero when I was there,” Alvarez said, according to FOX 6. “Now the 9/11 illnesses have taken many of us, and we are all worried about our children, our spouses and our families and what happens if we are not here.”
He added: “I should not be here with you, but you made me come, [but] I will not stand by as my friends with cancer from 9/11, like me, are valued less than anyone else.”
Just 24 hours later, the Judiciary Committee unanimously agreed to send the bill to the House floor for a vote, surpassing one major obstacle in the process of reauthorizing the funds.
As the committee agreed to send the bill to the House, Alvarez appeared for his chemotherapy appointment but instead received terrible news.
After a series of tests, doctors discovered his liver had completely shut down, and he was soon placed in hospice care, he revealed in a post to his Facebook on Tuesday night.
“I’m now in hospice, because [there] is nothing else the doctors can do to fight the cancer,” Alvarez explained in the post.
“It had nothing to do with my trip to DC, that was just coincidence,” his post continued. “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.”
Despite the news, Alvarez vowed to continue fighting for the benefits of other 9/11 first responders and their families, who are still dealing with illnesses stemming from the attacks nearly two decades later.
“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,” Alvarez wrote, before adding, “Still here, still breathing, Still fighting.”
More than 3,700 first responders have been diagnosed with a collection of cancers tied to exposure to the carcinogens — such as jet fuel, mercury and 400 tons of asbestos — that were released into New York City’s air during the collapse of the towers.
Many of these first responders rushed into the toxic ash and dust that would ultimately wreak havoc on their bodies. The poisonous air would affect many firefighters, police officers, volunteers, construction workers, clergy and health professionals who arrived at the scene on the day of the attacks and the days that followed.