A Sept. 11 hero died of cancer on Christmas Day. Jim Ryan was on the front lines during 9/11, a firefighter who spent many weeks rummaging through the destruction that encompassed Ground Zero, only to succumb to pancreatic cancer, according to a report.
The fire department confirms that his sickness was 9/11-related. And now his family – his three children, wife and all the people who loved him – mourn the death of a hero.
"He was just really really great," his grieving wife, Magda, told the Daily News.
Ryan, 48, was first diagnosed with cancer three years ago. He relapsed last year, reports the News.
A brave fighter until the end, Ryan desperately wanted to travel with his colleagues to Washington in November to campaign for the passage of legislation that would give $11 billion for those who contracted diseases on Sept. 11. That bill hasn't yet passed.
"It's about all the guys who are going to come after me," Ryan, who wasn't well enough to make the trip, told the News at the time. "And there's going to be plenty of them."
Ryan's family spent a quiet Christmas Eve at home, and just before 2 a.m. on Christmas Day, the Long Island father's teenage son realized he wasn't breathing, reports the News.
"We just wanted to stay home, we just hung out as a family," Magda told the paper. "We had our moments, some very very hard."