NY Daily News - December 26, 2009by Michael Mcauliff and Oren Yaniv
Sept. 11 first responder Jim Ryan did not make it through Christmas.
The former firefighter who spent months in the toxic rubble of Ground Zero succumbed to pancreatic cancer two hours into Christmas Day, his family said.
"He was just really really great," his widow, Magda, said last night.
The 48-year-old father of three, from Kings Park, L.I., was diagnosed with the disease in April 2006 and relapsed over a year ago.
The FDNY agreed that his cancer was 9/11-related.
He grew too sick to join a group who traveled to Capitol Hill last month to advocate passage of the Zadroga Act that would allocate $11 billion for those sickened on Sept. 11. The bill has been stalled amid health-care reform legislation.
"It's about all the guys who are going to come after me," Ryan told the Daily News then, "and there's going to be plenty of them."
Magda Ryan said her husband woke up Christmas Eve in good spirits, but his condition deteriorated and at 2 a.m., his 17-year-old son noticed that he wasn't breathing.
"We just wanted to stay home, we just hung out as a family," she said of how they spent this heartbreaking holiday. "We had our moments, some very very hard."
But they tried to recognize Christmas amid the grief. "Eventually," she said, "we even opened some presents."