9/11-related illnesses still claim first responders’ lives 16 years after their heroic efforts AP Photo/Beth Keiser, Pool
In this Sept. 13, 2001 photo, a first responder works in the rubble of the former World Trade Center in New York. A decade’s worth of study has answered only a handful of questions about the hundreds of health conditions believed to be related to the tons of gray dust that fell on the city when the trade center collapsed, from post-traumatic stress disorder, asthma and respiratory illness to vitamin deficiencies, strange rashes and cancer. (AP Photo/Beth Keiser, Pool)

While the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania claimed thousands of lives that fateful day, many first responders are still passing away from illnesses they developed during their work following the tragedies.

As of June 30, 2017, 5,807 first responders with 9/11-related cancer had enrolled in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s World Trade Center Health Program. Tens of thousands more have enrolled in the program for other conditions including aerodigestive, musculoskeletal and mental health issues. In the 16 years since, nearly 150 firefighters and fire officers have succumbed to their related illnesses. Last week, the Fire Department of New York honored 32 of its fallen officers by adding their names to World Trade Center Memorial Wall.

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Just this year alone, a number of 9/11 first responders have added to the event’s death toll. Rare would like to share the stories of just a few of the brave responders who have lost their lives since the attacks:

Raymond and Robert Alexander

The father and son were, respectively, a New York City firefighter and a New York City Police Department officer who both had the day off on Sept. 11, 2001. When the terror attacks on the Twin Towers occurred, the pair sprang into action and headed to Lower Manhattan, where they searched through ruble and debris for days. In November of last year, Raymond, 76, passed away after spending 13 years battling more than seven types of cancer. His family believes his cancers were linked to his 9/11 service. Last month, Robert tragically followed his father, passing away of brain cancer, which his family believes was also related to exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. Raymond and Robert’s deaths marked the first time since that fateful day that the attacks “have claimed the lives of two generations in a single family,” according to Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

Ray Pfeifer

Pfeiffer, 59, was a retired New York City firefighter who spent eight months scouring through the rubble at the World Trade Centers site following the terrorist attacks. He contracted cancer because of his work and, after an eight-year battle with the disease, passed away in May after earning a key to New York City last year. Before his death, he fought to get a law passed that would guarantee medical care for 9/11 first responders.

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Robert Newman

After 40 years as a New York City firefighter, Newman, a Vietnam veteran, retired in 2005, four years after 9/11. He spent several months after the attacks involved with rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, and he later developed cancer after being exposed to toxic dust. He was forced to retire due to related health problems and passed away in February 2017, at the age of 70.

Brian J. Masterson

Retired New York City firefighter Masterson, 61, passed away in January of this year after battling esophageal cancer for two years. The father of three was on the scene when the 9/11 terror attacks occurred and spent several months afterward working on the ground at the attack site. His family believes his cancer was “a direct result of working so many days at the site of the Twin Towers” and had been “constantly growing” since that day. He had retired in 2015 after nearly 20 years of service.

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