Mesothelioma and 9/11: What You Need to Know

Mesothelioma and 9/11: What You Need to Know

By Troy Rosasco

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers released toxic chemicals, including asbestos, into the air. Many of the people who inhaled dust from the 9/11 attacks, including first responders, residents and workers in Lower Manhattan, and workers who helped remove those materials after the attacks, have since shown symptoms of asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma. Since it can take between 10 and 50 years for symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions to emerge, more victims will continue to come forward with symptoms related to the attacks.

Mesothelioma, which occurs due to asbestos exposure, displays an aggressive progression that all too often leads to death. Treatment often involves decreasing the progression of and managing symptoms as much as possible. There is no cure for mesothelioma. Many patients do not discover that they have mesothelioma until the disease has progressed to the final stages. Thus, families left behind are often the ones who must seek compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

At Hansen & Rosasco, LLP, our 9/11 lawyers understand the urgency surrounding mesothelioma cases. We work quickly to have these claims expedited through the World Trade Center Health Program, as well as the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. We help you get the medical benefits and treatment you need to manage mesothelioma and improve your quality of life. We also help you seek compensation for you and your family to help offset the trauma and pain you suffered because of 9/11.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma impacts the mesothelium: the thin layer of tissue that surrounds the organs in the body. Most often, victims who have inhaled asbestos notice symptoms of mesothelioma in the lungs, but it can also impact tissue around the abdomen, heart, or testicles. This slowly progressing disease can take up to 50 years to display signs. Once symptoms begin, patients and doctors may not recognize them as mesothelioma and brush them off as normal signs of aging.

Pleural Mesothelioma (Around the Lungs)

Pleural mesothelioma, or mesothelioma that impacts the tissue around the lungs, often begins with symptoms that include chest pain, shortness of breath, and painful coughing. Victims may notice lumps of tissue under the chest or suffer unexplained weight loss despite not trying to lose weight. It can also cause trouble swallowing, hoarseness, or swelling in the face and arms. Imaging scans can reveal evidence of mesothelioma and help your doctor achieve a diagnosis.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the abdomen and can cause abdominal pain and swelling. Many victims suffer from ongoing nausea and may have unexplained weight loss unrelated to that nausea or difficulty eating.

Pericardial Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the tissue around the heart, can cause symptoms that include chest pain and breathing difficulty. This type of mesothelioma occurs less commonly than other types of mesothelioma, so symptoms can prove more difficult to examine.

Treatment for Mesothelioma

If you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, your doctor will recommend a course of treatment that can help manage your symptoms and prolong your life. Mesothelioma does not always prove fatal, especially if caught in its early stages; however, early treatment plays a critical role in improving the patient’s prognosis.

For this reason alone, it is important to seek benefits through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) as soon as possible. When you qualify for WTCHP benefits, you receive FREE medical treatment and a lifetime of care at any of the seven Clinical Centers of Excellence in New York and New Jersey.

If you live outside of the Metro NY/NJ area, you can also receive treatment and medical care through the Nationwide Provider Network of clinics located throughout the United States. Submitting your application for the WTCHP is the first step towards getting a lifetime of cost-free healthcare and treatment for your mesothelioma.

Some of the treatment you may need could include:

Surgery

In some cases, especially if you diagnose mesothelioma early, doctors may choose to remove the cancerous tissue. If removing the cancerous tissue in your body is not an option, you may choose to have surgery to help reduce the symptoms and the impact of mesothelioma throughout your body.

Surgical treatment may include:

  • Draining the fluid from around your organs
  • Removing the affected tissue
  • Removing a lung, if needed

Chemotherapy

As with many other forms of cancer, doctors may recommend chemotherapy to help treat mesothelioma. Chemotherapy delivers a heavy dose of chemicals specifically designed to kill cancer cells in the body.

Chemotherapy often brings with it its own set of side effects, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Easy bruising and bleeding
  • Nerve problems
  • Issues with libido
  • Mood changes
  • Challenges with focus and concentration
  • Fertility issues
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased risk of infection

While some patients experience few or no side effects from chemotherapy, others may experience extreme side effects during treatment. Some patients may need to undergo chemotherapy before or after surgery. Others may need ongoing chemotherapy treatment to help manage the spread of mesothelioma. Since chemotherapy treatments can have such harsh side effects, some patients opt to avoid them if possible, but it can lead to decreased life expectancy in patients with mesothelioma.

Radiation

Radiation therapy delivers high-intensity beams to the cancerous area on your body. Sometimes, radiation can eliminate cancer cells that remain after surgical intervention.

Radiation may have fewer side effects than chemotherapy, but some patients still experience significant effects, including:

  • Hair loss, especially in the treated area
  • Skin problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath

Seeking Compensation for Mesothelioma Related to 9/11

If you faced a mesothelioma diagnosis due to exposure after 9/11, you most likely  have the right to an award of compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, set up to aid victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families. The VCF helps provide much-needed compensation for people exposed to the dust and debris in the air on 9/11 and during the year after the attacks. Victims often include not just first responders, but also anyone who lived or worked in Lower Manhattan below Canal Street any time on 9/11 or during the year after the attacks.

The VCF also includes first responders and emergency workers, construction and demolition workers who helped clear the debris, and workers who needed to work in that area following the attacks and who, as a result, faced exposure to asbestos that resulted in a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Unlike many asbestos-related claims, mesothelioma victims with asbestos exposure following the events of 9/11 will not pursue compensation from an employer. Instead, those victims will pursue compensation through the VCF, a fund (NOT a lawsuit) specifically designed to make payments to those victims.

How Can You Qualify for Compensation Through the VCF?

To qualify for compensation through the VCF, you must first have a recognized condition covered by the fund. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses make the list for qualified illnesses.

You will then need to show evidence that your exposure took place as a result of the 9/11 attacks. You may, for example, need to show evidence that you took part in emergency rescue efforts following 9/11 or that you helped work to remove the debris in the aftermath of the attacks or simply that you lived, worked, or went to school Downtown any time from 9/11 through May 30, 2002.

If you lived in Lower Manhattan at the time of the attacks, you may need to show proof of residence to offer evidence of when your exposure occurred. This is a time-consuming process and one that is best handled by an experienced 9/11 attorney who can track down the eyewitnesses and employers you may need for your claim, including the preparation of affidavits or other sworn statements that are required for an award.

What Compensation Does the VCF Offer

  • Medical expenses. A mesothelioma diagnosis can lead to substantial medical expenses, many of which may increase substantially as treatment goes on. You can include all the costs of medical treatment as part of your claim, including the cost of exams, testing and all diagnostic scans, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, prescriptions, and therapy following your treatment, which may help you regain your strength. Talk to an attorney about how to calculate all of those medical costs and what costs to include as part of your claim.
  • Lost income. Mesothelioma leaves many victims unable to work, especially if you suffer extreme side effects from treatment. Some victims may continue to work on at least a part-time basis after their diagnosis. Others may not have the capacity to work at all, or may prefer not to work to focus on recovery and treatment. An attorney can help you better understand how to include those lost wages (and any lost benefits) as part of your claim, including wages lost in the past and also for the rest of what should have been your full future working life. Keep in mind that you can include decreased wages due to fewer hours at work as well as the complete loss of wages related to your diagnosis.
  • Pain and suffering. In addition to the tangible economic losses you may suffer due to mesothelioma, you may also undergo substantial pain and suffering. Not only can mesothelioma cause significant physical pain, it may also cause a great deal of emotional anguish. Your symptoms may prevent you from enjoying many of the activities that make up your life, or from spending time with friends and family. While the VCF does not offer compensation for mental illnesses or PTSD related to 9/11, it does provide compensation for pain and suffering related to a serious diagnosis. Consult an experienced attorney to learn more about how to include pain and suffering as part of your claim for compensation.

Did You Lose a Loved One to Mesothelioma?

If you lost a loved one to mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure in the aftermath of 9/11, your family may have the right to seek compensation. That compensation can help provide much-needed coverage for the medical bills your loved one left behind as well as providing some assistance rebuilding your lives. The surviving family of a victim has the right to file for compensation through the VCF. This compensation may include coverage for your loved one’s medical bills and repayment of mostly all lost wages as well as compensation for the spouse and children who lost a loved one.

Contact an experienced 9/11 attorney to learn more about how you can file for compensation for the loss of a loved one under the terms of the VCF.

How Can a 9/11 Mesothelioma Attorney Help?

On 9/11/2001, first responders jumped into action immediately to rescue and lend aid to the victims of the attacks. Two decades later, many of them now suffer from serious and fatal illnesses, cancers, and disabling conditions because of the toxins and contaminants present in the air. Workers who aided in cleaning up the debris and individuals who lived or worked in those areas may also find themselves dealing with life-threatening complications of the terrorist attacks.

The VCF aims to provide much-needed compensation for the victims of those terrorist attacks, including victims who may not have realized the severity of the attacks’ influence on their lives until years later.

In 2001, the government created the VCF, until the fund was closed in 2004. After the Fund was closed, as the years passed, the first responders and anyone else who lived or worked Downtown on or after 9/11 began to be diagnosed with respiratory and digestive conditions and many common and also uncommon cancers—all years after their exposure to the toxic dust and fumes that hung in the air in 2001 and 2002. The medical studies and science confirmed what the first responders and Downtown residents and workers long suspected: That there was a definite link to the exposure to the 9/11 dust/fumes and countless illnesses and diseases, including mesothelioma plus over 70 other different types of cancers.

In response to the public outcry and the irrefutable medical proof, in 2011 President Obama signed the Zadroga Act into law, establishing the WTC Health Program and reopening the 9/11 VCF.. In 2019, President Trump extended the VCF until October 1, 2090. This expansion ensures that all victims of the 9/11 attacks, including those who may not realize the severity of their illness until much later, can receive the compensation they deserve due to their illness and injuries.

The creation of this fund, however, does not automatically mean that every victim of the 9/11 attacks will receive equal compensation.

In many cases, victims may need the assistance of an attorney who can work with them to better understand the compensation they deserve.

  • An attorney will start by listening to your story. Everyone in America has a story about how they first heard about the 9/11 attacks. First responders and workers who helped clear the debris away from Ground Zero may have even more detailed stories. An attorney will start by listening to your story and learning how you first faced asbestos exposure.
  • An attorney can help you understand how much compensation you deserve after your mesothelioma diagnosis. Many victims underestimate the compensation they deserve or feel that they do not deserve the compensation received by other victims in similar circumstances. An experienced 9/11 attorney will not only help calculate your full medical expenses and lost wages related to your mesothelioma diagnosis, but can also provide you with a better understanding of how much compensation you deserve for pain and suffering.
  • An attorney can help you complete the paperwork and ensure that you qualify. To qualify for VCF compensation, you will need to show that you have an approved diagnosis and that you were either a first responder (or clean-up worker) or that you lived or worked near Ground Zero (south of Can Street) during the attacks or for the year after while the cleanup took place. An attorney can help you locate the evidence you need to establish your claim and prove that you suffered asbestos exposure due to that proximity to Ground Zero.
  • Hansen & Rosasco - 9/11 Cancer ClaimAn attorney can help reduce the stress associated with filing a claim. Many victims suffer from extreme stress as they try to navigate the claim process, from filling out the paperwork to collecting necessary information. An attorney can help reduce that stress and streamline the process so that you can receive the compensation you need faster, while focusing on what really matters: caring for yourself and your loved ones.

Did You Receive a Mesothelioma Diagnosis Due to Mesothelioma or Asbestos Exposure After 9/11?

If you received a mesothelioma diagnosis and know or suspect that your exposure occurred in the aftermath of 9/11, we can help. Contact Hansen & Rosasco, LLP, today at (855) 353-4907 to learn more about your right to compensation after a 9/11-related mesothelioma diagnosis.

Posted under: 9/11 Cancers

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