Police Officer Robert Grossman — with wife, Carla, and son, Noah — spent weeks working in the rubble at WTC after terrorist attack. He was diagnosed with brain tumor in 2006.
As the national debate over health care raged in the background, people stopped last week to somberly remember the Sept. 11 terror attacks. It's a connection that cannot be ignored.
First responders want Congress to acknowledge the sacrifices they made and pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
But the bill - named after an NYPD detective who died from his post-9/11 ailments - has been stuck in the legislative process amid fears it is too costly.
The families of first responders who have lost their loved ones or are watching them suffer are constantly trying to get their voices heard.
They got some encouragement when President Obama who, in a letter published in the Daily News on Sept. 11, talked about the importance of policies that ensure "access to monitoring and treatment for the rescuers, as well as residents, workers and students, made sick by the toxic dust and debris that filled the air after the attacks."
My colleague, Joe Kemp, spoke with the family of NYPD Officer Robert Grossman, 41, who rushed down to the World Trade Center on that grim day in 2001. Like many of the other first responders, it was his day off.
Here is Kemp's report:
Grossman - who had been working out of the 28th Precinct since graduating from the Police Academy in 1994 - spent the next few weeks working in the rubble, only returning to his Long Island home to change out of his filthy clothes and catch a few hours of sleep.
"We were just grateful he wasn't working there when it happened," said his 41-year-old wife, Carla. "We had no way of foreseeing what would happen."
One day in April 2006, Grossman was shaving when he noticed the side of his face was numb. A neurologist later told him he had a brain tumor and he was diagnosed with cancer.
The illness was traced to the toxic dust he breathed while working at the WTC site and he retired on a 9/11 health-related disability, according to his family.
Before long, hospital visits became routine. But Grossman, who has a 6-year-old son named Noah, was never discouraged. From operations to chemotherapy; from radiation to developing diabetes from his treatments, the 6-foot, 240-pound Grossman always fought, his family said.
This past June, Grossman's health started to deteriorate rapidly.
"It's been really bad in the last two months," said his father, Stephen, 68, who visits his son every morning at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, L.I. "He's not even talking."
The family prays Grossman's battle can be an example for others.
"Maybe people will wake up to the plight of these responders who have gotten sick and will continue to get sick," the dad said.
"My son is dying," he added, choking up. "Whatever passes through Congress will be too late for him. I hope it's not too late for other people."
Carla Grossman still keeps the notebooks from the Shakespeare class at Stony Brook University where they met 20 years ago.
"We wrote in each other's margins," she said. "Little notes and hearts."
"I keep saying he'll be coming home. It's a protective mechanism."
2. Daily News challenges New York's Bravest to FDNY Five Alarm Cookoff Daily News- 9/16/09 BY Marie Mcgovern
We know they can stand the heat - but can they stand the pressure?
The Daily News is challenging all the firehouse chefs among New York's Bravest to submit their original recipes to the FDNY Five Alarm Cookoff.
"Top Chef" take note: FDNY cooks from all five boroughs are submitting recipes featuring exotic ingredients and professional techniques.
But before these FDNY chefs go Hollywood, they'll have to battle each other in their own borough cookoffs.
The Battle of the Boroughs will kick off Oct. 3 in Brooklyn. The individual borough competitions will pit firehouse chefs against each other to determine a winner from each borough.
Each winner will advance to the Five Alarm Cookoff Finals to be held the first week in November.
Finalists will have the chance to show their culinary skills in front of family and friends on a live broadcast of the "Rachael Ray Show."
The Daily News Five Alarm Cookoff is sponsored in part by the Municipal Credit Union. Prizes for the Five Alarm Battle of the Boroughs and the final cookoff are being provided by Best Buy Electronics.