The music world was shocked on Thursday by the loss of disco legend Donna Summer to lung cancer. The singer largely avoided publicizing her battle with the illness, but said in 2008 that she thought the disease developed because of the 9/11 attacks.
Summer, who passed away this week at age of 63, told the Daily Telegraph four years before her death that she believed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks played a role in her illness. The singer was residing in an apartment near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan during the time of the tragedy.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in 2008, Summer said that had a premonition that the attacks would occur roughly a month before; afterwards, she says, she went into a deep depression and couldn’t leave her nearby apartment.
“I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I had to keep the blinds down and stay in my bedroom,” she told the paper.
Adding on the story to Access Hollywood, that same year Summer told the television program about her progress after the attacks.
“I actually went to therapy. I got help. I was extremely affected by it but I feel a lot better now and I processed it as much as a person can,” she said.
Only now, however, are people close to the legendary singer saying that the 9/11 attacks affected her to a much greater degree.
Sources close to the singer speaking on condition of anonymity tell the website TMZ that Summer largely blamed inhaling toxic particles after the 9/11 attack on her cancer. One source tells TMZ that she would spray disinfectant in the air constantly after the attacks. Denery Terrio, the host of Dance Fever, adds to the site that he saw Summer regularly hanging silk sheets in her dressing room after 9/11 to keep dust out.
“She somehow felt that her illness was a byproduct of the attack,” adds another source to TMZ.
The singer isn’t alone. Hundreds of law enforcement officers and first responders that came to the aid of victims at the World Trade Center say they developed diseases after the attack.
"Every time we bury a New York City firefighter: Cancer. Cancer. Cancer,” firefighter Kenneth Specht told the Daily News last year.
Just shy of last year’s 10-year anniversary of the attacks, Dr. David Prezant of the New York City Fire Department published a study that confirms that exposure to chemicals in the air after the attacks signaled an increase in cancer diagnoses.
Cancer-causing toxins including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins have all been identified as agents apparent at Ground Zero. In his findings, Dr. Prezant explicitly wrote that "This study clearly shows World Trade Center exposure in these firefighters led to an increase in cancer.” He analyzed data from nearly 10,000 male firefighters before coming to his conclusion.
That study was published in the September 3 edition of The Lancet, a medical journal out of the UK.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, added to 1010 WINS Radio last year that cancer deaths were growing in first responders at an “astronomical” rate.
“Men and women are dying from Sept. 11 exposure and they need to be taken care of,” Lynch told 1010 WINS. “On September 11, without question, our members responded and served. Now, they’re faced with nothing but questions as to where their cancer came from. It’s common sense, young men and women diagnosed with exotic cancers – it came from a toxic cloud on Sept. 11.”
In the decade after 9/11, 297 cops that were on the scene were diagnosed with cancer. At least 50 of them have passed.