(Updated) Ezzone is living proof: Cancer ‘is no longer a death sentence’
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:08
Nick Ezzone's cancer diagnosis came just a month after he celebrated his 70th birthday.
|Nick Ezzone is Wood County American Cancer Society’s 2013 “honored survivor” (Photo: Hal Brown/Sentinel-Tribune)
It was a decade ago this month that he discovered the lump.
"I woke up and felt something hard as a rock on the side of my neck," says Ezzone, former conductor of the Bowling Green Area Community Band.
With no other symptoms at all, it was nearly impossible for him to accept the truth. But based on a chest X-ray and a CT-scan, a doctor at Wood County told Ezzone, "I think this is lymphoma."
Next stop was the James Cancer Institute at Ohio State University Medical Center, where Ezzone's daughter Susan works in the bone marrow unit.
"She arranged for lot of tests - tests I did not know existed.
"By the time I got down there I was Stage 4," with cancer in the lungs and even the vena cava.
"When this happened I was very angry and depressed," Ezzone admits. After all, "I was never sick a day in my life.
"And then I decided I was going to fight this thing with the help of my family, my friends and my faith - and the medical doctors.
"I could have sat around in a chair and felt sorry for myself" but that approach held no appeal for Ezzone, who has always worked long hours. He was principal at Lakota High School and Lakota's band director for 40 years before that. Upon retirement, he took a new job as a supervisor with the Department of Job and Family Services, retiring from that second career just one one year before the cancer diagnosis.
"And now I've retired from the Community Band" as director two years ago, although both Ezzone and his wife still play with the group, he on trumpet and she on French horn.
Ezzone's surgery to remove the cancerous lymph node was followed by chemotherapy - eight treatments every three weeks. During the fourth treatment he was in full remission.
When I'd come back from Columbus, Express Scripts would mail a shot to me and either my wife or daughter would give it to me, or Tabitha Ezzone, our daughter-in-law who works at Wood County Hospital."
Ezzone was also able to have all his blood work done at Wood County "and they'd send it to Columbus. I'm really impressed with Wood County Hospital."
Fast forward to 2013, and Ezzone is thrilled to be Wood County's American Cancer Society "honored survivor" for the Daffodil Days campaign.
"Cancer is no longer a death sentence these days," he pointed out. "The research everybody's doing - it's really made a difference."
Closer to home, he calls family support vital.
"It's such a shock when you're first diagnosed. Somebody from the family needs to be there to hear everything" the doctors are saying, take notes and ask questions.
Ezzone, of course, had the extra blessing of professionals in his own family of four children and 10 grandchildren.
When his doctor wanted a bone marrow sample, "he said 'your daughter is the best down here.' So she did that."
The involvement of one of the youngest members of the family also meant a lot to Ezzone.
"One of the grandchildren, who was in fifth grade at the time, insisted he wanted to go with grandpa for a chemo treatment and his parents kept saying no. Well finally he did go along, and he laid right alongside grandpa on the bed. It was touching," Ezzone said.
In addition to family support, he said that "music was good therapy for me. My wife and I have been involved in music our entire married lives."
The pair met in the marching band at Bowling Green State University while both were undergraduates. She went on to become a music teacher at Lakota, Otsego and BG Montessori schools, and still gives piano lessons.
Ezzone, now 80, is able to claim a full decade as a cancer survivor. "It's wonderful."
Flowers for a cure
The daffodil is the first flower of spring and because of the American Cancer Society it has been a symbol of hope for cancer patients for 40 years.
Once again, Wood County residents are being given the opportunity to receive a colorful bunch of daffodils for a $10 donation.
The dollars raised through Daffodil Days enable the American Cancer Society to save more lives and create more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping those diagnosed with cancer to get well, by finding cures and by fighting back.
In addition to the traditional bouquets, this year also marks the addition of Ray O. Hope, the ninth in a special Boyd Bear collection designed for the American Cancer Society.
To place orders for flowers or stuffed bears, call the American Cancer Society office at 888-227-6446 ext. 5004. The last day to place an advance order is March 1.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 11:04