For the thousands of women who lived and worked in lower Manhattan during the September 11 attacks — many of whom breathed dust from the towers for months afterward — the profound and sometimes fatal long-term impacts on their health remain understudied and undercovered.
The federal World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), which was created to provide free medical monitoring and treatment for 9/11 survivors and responders, relied on initial research conducted overwhelmingly on male first responders to determine what treatments would qualify — which means some of the most common conditions for women survivors, such as breast cancer, went uncovered for years.
For The Fuller Project and The Cut, reporter Susan Rinkunas spent months speaking with women who had survived 9/11 to later be diagnosed with cancer, asthma, auto-immune or mental health disorders, who revealed what this critical lack of research on women survivors means for their health.
When our story published, just ahead of the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, some of those women were battling uterine and endometrial cancers that were still not covered by the WTCHP; a hearing to discuss whether uterine cancer should qualify for coverage was scheduled for later that month. By November, an advisory committee unanimously approved a recommendation to include uterine cancer under the WTCHP. A final ruling is expected by mid-2022.