MIAMI, Florida. – After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, first responders spent months at Ground Zero and they were joined by volunteers, people whose job it was not to run into danger, but who chose to go and help however they could anyway.
Now one of those volunteers is fighting for his life in South Florida.
“I thought I was still a badass, but 9/11 humiliated my whole life,” says Ground Zero volunteer William Cantres. “You could see people’s stuff as they just got to work and took off their jackets and went for coffee.”
On September 11, 2001, Cantres was working as an electrician in New York.
He heard about the first plane hitting the Twin Towers and then says he saw with his own eyes the second plane hit.
“It’s something I’ll never forget as long as I live,” Cantres said.
Willie, as his relatives call him, says he immediately felt the need to help out and rushed to Ground Zero, where he will spend the next 6 months working on the pile.
“I went there to help more hands on deck. Better chance of finding survivors. After spending a few hours on the pile, you were soaked and you . . . we smelled fire and smoke.
But Cantres, like many others who inhaled the dust, eventually developed major health issues and was unable to continue working or living life as before.
“He needed oxygen. He suffered from a disease called “sarcoidosis”. He ended up developing a more advanced type of sarcoidosis and that’s why he needed a lung transplant,” according to Dr. Tiago Machuca of Jackson Health.
Machuca is the director of the Lung Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He started working with Cantres several years ago.
Finally, in July 2022, Cantres received a double lung transplant and a glimmer of hope to return to a normal life.
But then another bad break. During his postoperative treatment, doctors discovered that Cantres had developed throat cancer and was currently undergoing harsh radiation treatments.
“I’ve been in and out of hospitals; I lived more often in the hospital than at home,” he says.
Dr. Neeraj Sinha, a transplant pulmonologist at Jackson Health, says radiation treatments are five times a week for seven consecutive weeks. “The radiotherapy causes throat irritation and he has a sore throat because of it. I remain very optimistic that the treatment regimen he has meticulously and courageously followed will cure the cancer,” Sinha says, adding that the incidence of sarcoidosis has increased about “5 or 6 times” in the population of New York compared to the previous one. years.
Doctors said his situation was tricky, but Cantres is a fighter and they believe he will also pass this test.
“I must. I have a grandson. I want to be able to throw a ball with him and try to make him a man, a good man,” Cantres says.
Machuca says helping Cantres is also humbling. “For us it is very touching, for us it is an honor to help a person who put himself in this situation so selflessly and never hesitated, the country needed him so he was the.”
Cantres couldn’t work because of the sarcoidosis and, of course, now even more so because of this cancer diagnosis.
If you would like to help Cantres, there is a gofundme set up.
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. man south Florida who does volunteer World Trade Center does now face a crisis health