9/11 Stories: Maureen Spataro


“We’re going to be dealing with this forever. The 9/11 cancers are the second wave”. So says Q104.3 listener Maureen Spataro, whose mother was diagnosed with 9/11 cancer just a few years ago. It was stage four kidney cancer. Maureen’s mom didn’t talk about 9/11 with any of her three children until she was diagnosed with cancer 17 years later. Until the diagnosis, Maureen never knew her mom had been enveloped by the dust cloud of the first fallen tower, that she was choking, couldn’t breathe, that she was covered in soot from head to toe, thinking she was about to die. Her mother knew immediately it wasn’t just soot. She thought to herself, “They’re all dead.” Maureen’s mom worked in an office building a few blocks away from The World Trade Center. She didn’t know about the plane hitting the North Tower until Maureen called to alert her. Maureen was still on the phone with her mom when the second tower was hit. She remembers the moment of realization that we were under attack, crying over the phone, “Mommy, Mommy, please get out of the city now!”. Her mom remained calm, promising to find a bus or taxi. That’s when the phone went dead. Spataro’s mom was hit by the dust cloud as soon as she exited her building.