NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Since the toxic dust cloud engulfed Lower Manhattan on 9/11, thousands have died or gotten sick. Many have cancer and that number is growing.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

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“I wound up having level 4 inoperable throat cancer,” said John Devlin, who spoke of that heart-stopping diagnosis as a death sentence.

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He was given six months to live, but that was 20 months ago.

“I’m constantly fighting pneumonia and infection,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.

The 50-year-old Devlin operated heavy machinery during the cleanup at Ground Zero.

“I wound up staying down there 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, documented in my union for being there like nine-and-a-half months,” he said.

Within two weeks, he knew there was trouble.

“We winded up spitting out yellow and green stuff out of our noses and mouths,” he said.

In 2008, things got really bad.

“I started to get this really, really bad sore throat,” he said.

Then they got even worse.

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“I started literally drinking over-the-counter sore throat bottles, just drinking them to try to stop this pain,” he said.

In 2009, he received the cancer diagnosis.

“I did 33 radiations, eight chemos and eight operations,” he said.

He says the country has a responsibility to him and those like him.

“Why did the government worry about cleaning the trucks that were going to drive through the city and wash them all off, but let us all walk out of there with our clothes on?” he asks.

He doesn’t understand why the James Zadroga 9/11 health act doesn’t cover cancer.

“I’m fighting to get it in there, not only for myself, but I know so many people who worked side-by-side with me that have cancer right now,” he said.

His inclusion would provide compensation for treating his illness and those of many others.

“I don’t have any money. I would love to go work. I don’t have the capability,” he said.

But Devlin continues to fight.

“I’m half full. I’m not half empty cause I still have the ones that I love,” he said. “As long as I’m not dead, I’m pretty happy.”

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Did you or someone you know become sick after working at Ground Zero? Share your story below in the comments section.