Jon Stewart Salutes the Casket of 9/11 Responder Luis Alvarez, Who Died After 68 Rounds of Chemo
The Wednesday funeral for Luis Alvarez — who was diagnosed with a 9/11-linked cancer in 2016 after helping the recovery efforts after the attacks — was reportedly attended by hundreds, including comedian Jon Stewart, who testified with Alvarez before Congress just weeks before Alvarez’s death.
Alvarez had become an outspoken advocate for the thousands of emergency workers and other responders coping with illnesses related to the aftermath of the terror attacks.
He spent three months in the wreckage at ground zero, according to The New York Times.
Alvarez, a former U.S. Marine and bomb-squad detective for the New York City Police Department, had colorectal cancer for three years before he died. He underwent 68 rounds of chemotherapy and multiple operations to remove portions of his colon, gallbladder and liver.
But when he arrived for his 69th chemo session in mid-June, just a day after appearing before lawmakers with Stewart to push for reauthorizing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, doctors discovered his liver had completely shut down, Alvarez revealed in a Facebook post on June 19.
“The day after my trip I was scheduled for chemo, but the nurse noticed I was disoriented,” he wrote. “A few tests later they realized that my liver had completely shut down because of the tumors and wasn’t cleaning out the toxins in my body and it was filling up with ammonia, hence the disorientation.”
“So now I’m resting and I’m at peace,” he continued, adding that he was placed in hospice care shortly after. “I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time.”
Alvarez passed away on Saturday. He was 53.
His funeral, held Wednesday morning at Immaculate Conception Church in N.Y.C., was standing room only, the New York Post reported. New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney attended along with Stewart, who saluted Alvarez’s casket as it was moved inside the church.
According to the Post, Stewart declined to give comment at the funeral and said the Alvarez family would speak on his behalf.
Just days before his death, Alvarez gave a final interview from his hospice bed where he recalled the day of the attacks and expressed frustration for himself and other responders who have been diagnosed with a collection of cancers tied to exposure to the carcinogens — such as jet fuel, mercury and asbestos — that were released into the city air during the collapse of the World Trade Center.
“9/11 happened, we got called down. It’s my job as an NYPD detective to respond to emergencies,” he told Fox News. “So no hesitation. I’m no one special, and I did what all the other guys did. Now we are paying the price for it.”
A day after Alvarez and Stewart appeared before Congress, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously agreed to send the bill to the House floor for a vote. The Senate has likewise vowed to act.
Despite his condition worsening, Alvarez made constant trips to talk to lawmakers.
“I want my kids to know that dad did everything he could to help other police officers get through this,” he told the New York Daily News.