9/11 first responder who testified with Jon Stewart in front of Congress admitted into hospice care: 'Still breathing, Still fighting'
53-year-old Luis Alvarez was one of tens of thousands of first-responders who worked at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attack and was diagnosed with advanced-stage colorectal cancer in 2016 and has seen his health decline significantly since then
An NYPD detective who sat alongside Jon Stewart and received a standing ovation after testifying in front of Congress last week in support of reauthorizing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund has revealed that he is now in hospice care.
According to the Daily Mail, 53-year-old Luis Alvarez was one of tens of thousands of first-responders who worked at Ground Zero following the attacks on the twin towers of World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
He worked to comb rooftops for victims following the collapse of the towers, and as a direct result of his work, was diagnosed with advanced-stage colorectal cancer in 2016 and has seen his health decline significantly since then.
Alvarez's appearance in front of Congress coincided with what was supposed to be his 69th round of chemo, and he minced no words as he implored lawmakers to replenish the dwindling coffers of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund set up to cover costs of first responders, volunteers, and survivors suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.
"I should not be here with you, but you made me come," he said. "You made me come down 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."
In an emotional Facebook post following his heartwrenching Congress testimony, Alvarez revealed that the 68 rounds of Chemo he had undergone following his diagnosis had proven to be ineffective and that he was now in hospice care.
"I’m now in hospice, because there is nothing else the doctors can do to fight the cancer," he wrote. "It had nothing to do with my trip to DC, that was just coincidence. The day after my trip I was scheduled for chemo, but the nurse noticed I was disoriented."
"A few tests later they realized that my liver had completely shut down because of the tumors and wasn’t cleaning out the toxins in my body and it was filling up with ammonia, hence the disorientation. So now I’m resting and I’m at peace," he continued. "I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time."
"Still here, still breathing, Still fighting."
Attached with the post was an undated photo of him where he is practically unrecognizable. The years of chemo have taken a toll on the former detective, with his skin losing its color and his eyes now deeply set in his sunken cheeks.
However, he still insisted to Congress that he was one of the lucky ones. "I have been lucky enough to have the pain and suffering of 69 rounds of chemo and countless other treatments and surgeries," he said. "My life isn't worth more than the next responder to get cancer. My family's needs are not worth less than any others who have already died."
"This fund is not a ticket to paradise. It is there to provide for our families when we can't. Nothing more. You all said you would never forget. Well, I'm here to make sure that you don't."
His and Stewart's testimony had its desired effect. The following day, the 'Never Forget The Heroes Act' unanimously passed through the House Judiciary Committee.
If it is passed following a full House vote next month, the act will keep the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund — to which more than 40,000 people have already applied — going until October 1, 2090, and will not assign a cap to funds allocated to assist victims.