(NEWS10) – Shortly before he died, a New York State trooper hoped to perform one last act of service for his community.
Mike Anson knew he was dying, but he wasn’t thinking about himself. He was worried about every first responder from 9/11.
“Don’t be afraid to go get some help.”
You see, Mike was there right after the towers fell, helping and breathing in those toxic fumes.
For 15 years, he seemed fine. And then cancer. It was aggressive and deadly.
“Never saw it coming and it’s happened so fast,” his wife Suzanne Anson said.
He’s not alone.
“Much of my work is with first responders that are now sick,” Jeannie Kelly.
Kelly is with Mount Sinai Hospital. She said they’re seeing more cases like Mike’s every day.
“What I’m seeing is those responders who weren’t sick are getting sick, and those responders who were sick are getting sicker,” she said.
Anyone who was near Ground Zero, even for a few hours, can get themselves checked for free. If something is found early, it could save you.
For Mike, it was too late.
“You can’t take anything for granted, because nobody is promised tomorrow,” Suzanne said. “We learned that the hard way.”
“Mike was one of the guys we really looked up to,” Joseph Keane, of the New York State Police, said.
Mike’s name will be added to the Wall of Honor with all those who died in the line of duty, including five others who perished from 9/11 health issues.
“I think he’d want people to keep his family in his thoughts and prayers,” Keane said.
We often define the greatness of a life by how it’s lived, but in Mike’s case, it may well have been defined by how he died.
He allowed NEWS10 ABC into his hospital room at such a vulnerable time, because even then, he was still trying to help others – a trooper to the very end.
But he was more than that: A husband, father, friend.
In a world starved of heroes, we lost a good one, an honorable man who lived by a simple code.
“So you just gotta do what you think is right. Try to do the best you can,” Mike said. “To have someone say I made a difference in somebody’s life is really important.”
For more information on how you can get screened visit https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/.