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Monday, June 27, 2011

9/11 hero Barry Galfano, retired NYPD captain, loses brave battle with cancer

Barry Galfano had fought brain, lung and liver cancer since retiring from the NYPD in 2006

A retired NYPD captain died Sunday, days after releasing a moving video about spending nine months at Ground Zero and developing cancer.

Barry Galfano, 57, of Brentwood, L.I., had fought brain, lung and liver cancer since retiring from the force in 2006. He was first diagnosed in 2008.

"They didn't give him long to live," his son Dan Galfano, 28, told the Daily News. "He battled. He probably beat odds that 99% of people wouldn't be able to beat."

A self-described life-long health nut, Barry Galfano ran in fund-raising charity events even as he fought his disease.

"After his first chemo treatment, he ran 3 miles on the treadmill, the same day," Dan Galfano said.

Galfano's inspiring eight-minute video was posted Thursday on YouTube and on the website for the Captains Endowment Association. It was featured in The News last week.

"At first, he didn't want to do it," Dan Galfano said of the video. "He didn't want to be recognized. But he did it, and he was very proud."

"I was a person who didn't like sitting behind a desk," Galfano says in the video of his decision to join the force in 1981 after working as a biology teacher.

He saw plenty of on-the-job action. He joined the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit just three weeks before 9/11.

"I knew the world had changed, and I was gonna be in the middle of it," he said of 9/11. "I was never that scared in my life."

His family rarely saw him in the months that followed.

"He'd come home once a week to take a meal, and he'd be covered with soot," said Dan Galfano.

"He is a hero among heroes," said Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association. "Barry left this world with honor, courage and determination, and fought to the end."

He is survived by his sons, Chris, Dan and Matt Galfano; his daughter, Patrice Newman, and two grandkids. His girlfriend, NYPD Lt. Jacqueline Bourne, was honored in 2007 with a Theodore Roosevelt Award for cops who overcome an injury, an illness or a disability. Bourne was hospitalized for three months in 1999 after being hit by a car and was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2006.

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