The Firefighter Cancer Foundation of New York will not just help local firefighters but also those across the country.
“They’re our heroes,” U.S. Senator (D-NY) Chuck Schumer said at the Corning Fire Department on Friday. “They’re the domestic version of our soldiers.”
Schumer is pushing to pass legislation that would establish, for the first time ever, a cancer registry managed by the Centers for Disease Control.
“This stuff gets in the air, gets in their lungs, and then later, they’re far more susceptible to cancer,” Schumer said. “Believe me, this will not stop our firefighters from doing their job. I know that, but it’s there, and we have to deal with it. Just how we dealt with the people who rushed to the towers.”
It would help firefighters nationwide get screened for certain types of cancers that many are at risk of getting.
There is bipartisan support, and he believes it could be passed by the end of the year.
“It’s in committee now,” Schumer said. “I’d like to get it passed in the lame-duck session which is after the election, but certainly early next year. If not, then right in December.”
The bill is similar to the Zadroga Act – a legislation which covers health benefits for Ground Zero workers who responded to the September 11th attacks. It was extended for 75 years last year, but unlike Zadroga, the Firefighter Cancer Foundation of New York will not expire.
Jamie Heverly, a widow of a firefighter, lost her husband to stage 4 brain cancer this April.
“I really hope the legislation goes through,” Heverly said. “It’s very important for no other family to ever go through this and to have the facts to find out what they are exposed to, so we can protect all of them.”
The president of the foundation assures firefighters will not be denied no matter what their background is.
“Let us know what you’re going through and how we could help,” Michael Valenti said. “We will help with everything possible with second opinions, different research, financially – if we can, and legal matters. We are there for every firefighter and their family. We don’t care if you’re retired, still on the job, volunteer or professional. We are there to help any firefighter and their family.”
To get more information on the foundation, you can go to ffcancer.org.