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135: Defining Heroism: A 9/11 First Responder’s Story

Uninvisible Pod

135: Defining Heroism: A 9/11 First Responder’s Story

* * * TW / CW : mortality, and graphic discussion of the events during and in the aftermath of 9/11, 2001 * * * Twenty years after 9/11, some…
September 15, 2021

135: Defining Heroism: A 9/11 First Responder’s Story

* * * TW / CW : mortality, and graphic discussion of the events during and in the aftermath of 9/11, 2001 * * *

Twenty years after 9/11, some first responders are still struggling with long-term health complications brought on by the historic event. For Tom Frey, a former NYC detective, the consequences started with a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma — the treatment for which then caused pulmonary fibrosis (PF) — a life-threatening, incurable lung disease. His illness can be linked back to inhaled dust from his rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Tom’s not alone. Officials worry that deaths of 9/11 first responders due to illnesses caused by exposures at Ground Zero will soon outnumber deaths of those who lost their lives that day. Despite Tom’s terminal health struggles, he works hard to drive awareness, research, and funds for a cure for pulmonary fibrosis – especially during Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, which happens to be in September. A true hero, Tom will tell you he would do it all over again tomorrow, even as he struggles daily to breathe and relies on oxygen.

Tune in as Tom shares:

  • how he was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2016 — as a result of inhaling toxic dust during and in the aftermath of 9/11
  • how one of his chemo drugs caused his pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis
  • that the only cure for PF is a lung transplant — and his has been on hold because of COVID
  • how the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation has changed his life
  • the trauma of working in rescue and recovery after a disaster like 9/11, and the importance of talking about it
  • how waiting to die — and not dying — forced him to live again…and why he hasn’t stopped moving since
  • who his heroes are: nurses and doctors
  • that while the average life expectancy for pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis is 2-5 years, with the right support it can be extended
  • the difficulties he’s had dealing with the United Healthcare World Trade Center Fund to cover his life-saving treatments
  • his plea that we take sensible precautions against COVID — like wearing masks
  • a look back at what it was like on the ground on 9/11, and in the days following the attacks
  • a reminder of all the individuals who were on the ground on 9/11, and whose lives and health have been impacted as a direct result

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