In hospice, Luis Alvarez pleads for 9/11 first responders

 

Luis Alvarez is fighting to help his fellow 9/11 first responders until his last breath.

The retired NYPD detective gave what may be the final interview of his life when he spoke with Fox News from his hospital bed in hospice care on Thursday, reiterating his plea to Congress to ensure that 9/11 first responders keep getting health care.

"It's been a little overwhelming,'' Alvarez told Fox News. "I'm a humble, under-the-radar kind of guy, and to have all this attention is a little strange, but I'll do whatever I have to do to see my brothers and sisters who aren't covered, get the coverage that they need and the help they need."

Alvarez, 53, received a standing ovation after his haunting testimony alongside comedian Jon Stewart before a House subcommittee on June 11 in which they pleaded for Congress to replenish the 9/11 Victim's Compensation Fund to ensure continued health benefits for first responders.

Alvarez revealed in his testimony that he was scheduled to undergo his 69th round of chemotherapy since being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016 that spread to his liver. He believes his illness stems from his work at Ground Zero for three months in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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Jon Stewart testifies during 9/11 victims' fund hearing
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart signs a name placard for Retired New York Police Department detective and 9/11 responder Luis Alvarez following a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart is sworn in before testifying during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: FealGood Foundation co-founder John Feal hugs former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 11: Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart wipes away tears after being presented with the jacket of first responder Ray Pfeifer before testifying at a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund in Washington on Tuesday June 11, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 11: Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart holds up the jacket of first responder Ray Pfeifer before testifying at a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund in Washington on Tuesday June 11, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 11: Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart holds up the jacket of first responder Ray Pfeifer before testifying at a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund in Washington on Tuesday June 11, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart is pictured before testifying during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart and FealGood Foundation co-founder John Feal look on during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart arrives before testifying during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart arrives before testifying during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart arrives before testifying during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart speaks to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) following a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. The fund provides financial assistance to responders, victims and their families who require medical care related to health issues they suffered in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
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"You made me come here the day before my 69th round of chemo, and I'm going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders,'' he said before the committee.

He then announced the tragic news on his Facebook page Thursday that "there is nothing else doctors can do to fight the cancer" so he has stopped treatment and entered hospice care.

"I'm doing well,'' he told Fox News. "I'm comfortable. I'm not in a lot of pain. I have my family surrounding, and I'm at peace."

The 9/11 Victim's Compensation Fund is set to expire next year unless Congress acts. It still awaits approval from the full House of Representatives and then would need approval from the Senate to continue.

Alvarez's illness is one of thousands of cancer cases linked to the aftermath of 9/11, as first responders breathed in pulverized dust that contained cement, asbestos, lead, glass fibers, dioxins and other chemicals after the World Trade Center collapsed.

"Sixteen years later I got sick so it's an epidemic,'' Alvarez said. "There's gonna be more and more first responders getting sick, and the government has to take care of them."

Alvarez will continue to fight until his final day after spending almost three straight years getting regular chemotherapy treatments.

"I have no regrets,'' he said. "No regrets whatsoever."

 

 

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