15 years after the World Trade Center attacks, cancer remains one of the biggest concerns for first responders, survivors and residents.
So far more than 5,000 have been diagnosed with cancers related to 9-11.
John Gerrish says he has good days and bad days, but he tries to stay positive.
The former New York City deputy police chief is battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer, 15 years after the twin towers collapsed in front of his eyes and the dust cloud blanketed downtown.
"It hurt to breath. i was sitting in my office in inside and it hurt to breath," said Gerrish.
New research from the New York City Department of Health shows rescue and recovery workers as well as residents exposed to the dust and debris have an increased risk of cancer. The study finds significant increases in Prostate cancer and melanoma.
Doctor Michael Crane leads the World Trade Center health program at Mount Sinai Hospital.
"The exposure at World Trade Center had a definite impact on the rate of cancer in our population and we will continue to see that increase above and beyond the age effect," said Crane.
He says doctors in his program are now diagnosing 10-15 new cancer cases each week including rare cancers like carcinoid.
"You could go an entire medical career and not see something like this and we now have 16, 17, 18 in our population," said Crane.
Many patients, like Gerrish, have been diagnosed with multiple cancers.
His Prostate cancer is now in remission and the lymphoma is stable.
"I feel lucky and blessed that I'm not as sick. I know people who have died," said Gerrish.
He's sharing his story to encourage more people take that first step and get checked out.
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