A 51-year-old woman who was a first responder to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center died last week at age 51 after a short battle with lung cancer. Marci Simms was just three years into her job as a police officer — still a rookie — when al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center, and she was one of the many first responders who worked for months at Ground Zero searching for survivors at first and then human remains later. She was remembered at a funeral on Sunday where family members described her as a “saint” and a “hero.” Simms, they reportedly said, often proclaimed “If a man can do it, I can do it,” when she was growing up. And becoming an officer for the NYPD was life-long dream. Family members say that she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer just 16 months ago and that the disease was caused by her time spent inhaling toxic dust at the Ground Zero site. Simms’ medical costs were covered by the federal government, in accordance with the the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. That bill, named for an NYPD officer who died of a respiratory disease after working at Ground Zero, was signed into law by President Obama in 2011. It provides medical treatments and compensation for workers who became ill after toiling at Ground Zero. However, it’s set to expire next year if Congress doesn’t act to extend it. “I hope to God the message gets out to Congress that they reinstate the bill for the 9/11 victims,” Susan Fosco, Simms’ 63-year-old sister, told The New York Daily News. “There are still more police officers — men and women — that are falling to this disease and they need help.”
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