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Partnering with Heroes

We know the heroes who served the city of New York and this country immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks suffered unimaginable loss. But few people realize that the effects of cleaning up the massive pile of rubble, are only beginning to take their toll on members of the New York City Fire Department. Dr. David Prezant, the chief medical officer for the fire department, said cancer rates among FDNY members who worked in the pile were 19% higher than other firefighters in the department. The percentage increase in cancer rates for firefighters exposed to the 9/11 cleanup efforts is also higher than general population rates.

The V Foundation is funding a $1 million grant to help treat and prevent cancer in FDNY members who were exposed to toxic gases and large amounts of dust in 9/11 cleanup efforts. The fire department and its medical team feared this potential issue as soon as the relief efforts began and has been monitoring the health of these men and women ever since. Prezant said funding from The V Foundation has helped bring national recognition and respect within the scientific community to the fire department’s cause. He said the Foundation’s grant will help discover and monitor early signs of hematologic cancers — leukemia and lymphoma for example — in the firefighters.

Fire Department Chief Robert Sweeney said the increase in cancer rates has had a traumatic impact on the city’s fire houses because men and women are seeing their friends and family members suffer the effects of 9/11 nearly 11 years later. He said The V Foundation is helping raise awareness, not only for the fire department, but for all people who have been affected by cancer.

Chief Sweeney and Dr. Prezant will be featured in The V Foundation’s 2012-2013 corporate video along with three New York doctors who are making great strides of their own in cancer research.