CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (PIX11) — John Moogan, a Greenwich Village chef who developed lung cancer 10 years after he volunteered to feed first responders near ground zero, received a screening Monday from the NYU World Trade Center Health Program and thanked PIX11 News for heeding his call for help.
“The ball started rolling with you,” Moogan said. “I want to say thank you that it mattered, 21 years later, to people who gave me a voice.”
Moogan, 57, reached out to PIX11 News a week before Thanksgiving, desperate to get an expedited appointment with the NYU program. He was hoping to get a screening — and approval — for experimental radiation, before a less effective treatment begins Nov. 29.
Moogan knew his advanced lung cancer would have to be tied to toxic exposure, post-9/11, in order for him to get consideration. He cited the immuno-diseases he developed and mutated cancers that settled in his adrenal glands and lymph nodes.
Moogan had applied some time ago to the World Trade Center Health Program as a survivor, and he was pleasantly surprised when he received notification in a Nov. 7 letter that he was eligible for screening as a responder.
“This miracle shows up,” Moogan said Nov. 18 “and the problem is: ‘I have to get screened within a month.'”
That’s because Moogan was slated for the less powerful treatment Nov. 29.
PIX11 News put Moogan in touch with John Feal of the FealGood Foundation, who did extensive work with writer/performer Jon Stewart to get the James Zadroga Act expanded in Congress. Feal then reached out to 9/11 advocate Ben Chevat, a former assistant to U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Moogan said Chevat “cut through eight weeks of red tape.”
Within a week of the PIX11 News interview, Moogan had an NYU appointment set up for Monday, Nov. 28.
The experimental treatment Moogan is seeking is non-FDA approved; the chef said the government will have to approve it.
Moogan said Dr. Denise Harrison, who directs the NYU program, personally screened him Monday and said “she told me she’s putting me in for certification for my advanced lung cancer. Hopefully, it will be cleared by the government.”
When we interviewed Moogan on Nov. 18, he recounted his involvement with feeding first responders on 9/11, which began with a phone call from his brother on Greenwich Street in lower Manhattan.
“The NYPD Emergency Service Units were staging their search and rescue teams from the lobby of the building my brother managed,” Moogan said. “And he said they couldn’t get any food, and the Red Cross wasn’t set up. I worked at the Red Lion on Bleecker and Thompson in the Village, and he asked if I could come down and start running the food downtown.”
Moogan, who worked his way up from dishwasher to chef in a 40-year career, said he was glad to help in some way and brought seven trays to the hungry officers, starting the next day.
About 10 years later, Moogan was diagnosed with lung cancer and initially attributed it to smoking.
“I thought I did it to myself,” Moogan, now 57, said. “Then, all of a sudden, I’m getting these immuno-diseases, and these cancers mutated and settled in my adrenals and lymph nodes.”
Moogan recalled young interns at Memorial Sloan Kettering asked if his parents ever worked around heavy metals.
“And one kid said, ‘Were you down at the World Trade Center? And I said, ‘Yeah, I was,'” Moogan recounted.
In the interim, he continued treatment for his cancers at NYU Perlmutter in Manhattan. His nurse practitioner has been prepping him for a powerful, five-day course of radiation that’s considered very effective. The appointment is set for Nov. 29.
But Moogan learned his wife’s insurance wouldn’t pay for the costly treatment and wanted him to sign up for something else.
“15 to 20 percent less effective,” Moogan said.
While Moogan considered his options, he received a letter dated Nov. 7 from the World Trade Center Health Program administrator, Dr. John Howard.
Moogan was having a hard time getting through to the health program’s offices on First Avenue to make the appointment, until he contacted PIX11 News and John Feal.
“I don’t want anything more than just the chance to have my appointment moved up,” Moogan said.
Moogan got his wish. Now he’s waiting to see if the government approves his experimental treatment before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.