Disasters & Accidents

9/11 cancer survivors reflect on 20th anniversary

Charlie Sullivan and Anne Marie Principe’s lives were changed forever the morning of the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, when two hijacked passenger planes were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

Twenty years later they reflect on the impact the event has had not only on themselves, but thousands of others on the day that changed the world.

Sullivan was a retired member of the New York Police Department when he was called up for duty. He spent a week working in recovery efforts at the site and, as a result, for years he has been struggling with cancer and has suffered the loss of many friends. But, despite the hardships he has endured, Sullivan feels “grateful” for the “sunny days” he enjoys while looking at the rebuilt skyline 20 years later, and seeing “people happy again.”

Principe was in New York when the air became “a massive cloud of dust and ash” on Sep. 11, which has since taken a toll on her health. She has survived complex neurosurgery and is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

After her own Downtown-based company was affected by 9/11, she launched a grassroots movement to help small businesses recover, and later embarked on a journey to support emergency responders with the FealGood Foundation, helping to pass legislation and providing economic relief to people facing health problems and other difficulties.

“We now have people that are passing in great numbers from their illnesses. And it’s really important that the media of the world listen to those stories and help us find other people that may be out there,” she said.

A visual story by Will Oliver.

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