"But they're not allowed to retire [with full benefits] because the pension board will say, 'You have to prove [the illness] is 9/11 related,'" John said.
He is among that group, because he has a history of colon cancer in his family.
"We got into this job to fight fires, to help people," he said. "Not to work in the [department] tool room."
John's cancer is in remission, thanks to an intensive regimen of chemotherapy that has robbed the proud, self-effacing firefighter of 33 pounds.
At 41, he's going to retire anyway, hopefully with a three-quarter pension.
"If I go back to the job, cancer-free, and the cancer shows up again, they're not going to offer me three-fourths [disability pension] again, so I've got to take it now," he said.
John said his cancer had opened his eyes to what he believes is a coming epidemic of sick and dying 9/11 firefighters, and he's more than a little bit frustrated with the FDNY for failing to more aggressively support the firefighters with, for instance, mandatory medical testing.
"I'm angry," he said. "I just want to know how many other guys right now are walking around with tumors that they don't know about, you know? … I mean, we're doing the lung tests, fine. … What about the rest of the body, you know?"
"We gotta do more," he said a minute later. "Whatever test it takes, we need to be tested from head to toe. Everybody that was there -- cops, firemen, carpenters, everybody."
"I'm not angry. I'm disappointed," he said in another interview. "I'm disappointed at how we've been let down. I remember every politician coming down to the … Pit … including President Bush, standing there and saying, 'We're with you, guys. We'll always be there for you.'"
"Now it's five years later and it's 'Get over it.' You know? It's five years later and it's 'Get over it.'"
"What fuels my anger is that this should be the best part of my life right now. My wife's six months pregnant. I'm having a baby. I should be focusing on this. Now it's all about me and not about her now," he said, turning to Jennifer.
"And me being sick, you know, I look in the mirror when I get out of the shower in the morning. I'm 33 pounds less than I weighed. I lost all my muscle mass. My clothes don't fit me no more and, you know, I have a little anger over that, over the fact I have to go through this."
"'Cause we did the right thing."