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A 9/11 Story: A Good Counsel Connection

Alexia Ayuk, News and Special Projects Editor

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Our country’s motto after the vicious attacks on the Twin Towers seventeen years ago became “never forget.” This vow became a way to show our gratitude for those who risk their lives daily to provide for our safety as well as to display a united front as a country.

At times, we may feel far-removed from the event that took place over a decade ago, but many of those brave first responders continue to live with the terrible ramifications because of their heroism that day.

Dr. Patricia Riely, a Good Counsel math teacher, knows all too well how these consequences can affect a family. Dr. Riely’s younger brother, Brian Lavin, was a police detective in New York City during the time of the attacks. He was not on site when the planes were hit but were called in once the plane hits began. As a part of the rescue and recovery effort, thousands of detectives and forensic evidence specialists worked at the landfill, Fresh Kills, where they took the debris and remnants from the 9/11 crash. The hope was to find anything that could be returned to the families of the victims. Lavin spent the rest of his time as a detective dedicated to this effort. What Dr. Riley noted to me was that, at the time, they had no idea what those working on the sites were filling their bodies with and bringing back to their homes.

Five years after Lavin retired from the force, he had surgery, and it was discovered that he had stage 4 cancer. Due to new technology and research, his doctors were able to tie his toxin build up back to the 9/11 attacks and from which site on the landfills he received it. Lavin had nerve damage down both his arms and his neck muscles had to be removed which shifted his body alignment, but through years of chemotherapy and radiation, “he made it through which is huge!” Dr. Riely exclaimed.

Almost everyone who was a part of that rescue and recovery effort at Fresh Kills, to some extent, endured some physical ramifications. Luckily, Brian Lavin has a great support system in his wife, sister, and parents who take care of him. As a way of pushing through the pain, he now goes to the gym every day. He also drinks protein shakes and keeps a careful watch of his nutrition. “There are a lot of challenges,” Dr. Riely recalled, “but that’s what life is.”

It is unfortunate that any person has to endure pain or suffering when acting with courage to protect the lives of others. In moments like these, we should be reminded of why it is so great to be a part of this country. Many are willing to sacrifice their health and well-being for the benefit of others’ safety; now, that is something we should never forget

 

Photo Credit: The Financial Express

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