November 30, 2021

Cincy man eyes 3rd cancer

Katie Keyser/Living and Leisure Editor

Ron Colasurdo, of Cincinnatus, said the amount of support he’s getting from friends, and even people he doesn’t know, is incredible as he goes through a third bout of cancer.

Ron Colasurdo is doing what he has to do as he deals with his third bout with cancer.

And the 56-year-old Cincinnatus man didn’t like the idea of a chicken barbecue to support him, thank you very much.

“I will take care of my own problem,” said the former salesman at E.L. Wood Braiding in Marathon.
But his friends couldn’t just sit by and do nothing, while Colasurdo walked through stage four adenocarcinoma cancer.

“Finally they decided they didn’t care what I thought. They were going to do it, anyway,” Colasurdo said.

Lynn McUmber and Shirley Halstrom have corralled the community to support Colasurdo with a chicken barbecue 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 31 at Raimo’s Ranch, 2895 Route 26, Cincinnatus.

“I can’t stress the support I have gotten from family and friends. Even people I don’t know,” Colasurdo said.

‘It’s Unbelievable’

Halstrom, of Willet, has known Colasurdo most of his life.

“He’s just a very thoughtful, caring human being. He would do anything for anybody,” she said. “Three times, it’s unbelievable. I remember the first time, he was like 19.”

Chicken BBQ for Ron Colasurdo

A chicken barbecue to support Ron Colasurdo in his latest fight with cancer will be 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 31 at Raimo’s Ranch, 2895 Route 26, Cincinnatus.

A $10 donation includes barbecued chicken, salt potatoes, macaroni salad, baked beans, dessert and one raffle ticket. There will be door prizes, a 50/50 raffle and other raffles.

Actually, Colasurdo had testicular cancer at 18 and then again at 39. He did his treatments and went into remission. He had two relatives who also dealt with cancer — his mother, Alma Gutchess of Groton, and brother Brian Colasurdo of Orange, Mass. They, too, were in remission from cancer, breast cancer and testicular cancer, respectively, back in 2006.

Colasurdo’s mother died in 2015 from breast cancer that spread to her brain and spine.

“Brian and I took care of her until she passed,” Ron Colasurdo said. “This is different going through this without your mom. I have the same friends I had back in ‘81 and ‘82 that have been so good to me, plus my family. Brian is doing well. He’s had no recurrence of cancer.”

Colasurdo said blood work revealed the first two cancers, but not the third. He didn’t feel well last spring and summer.

“I couldn’t feel anything, but I had shortness of breath and I was throwing up,” he said. “I had an idea something was wrong. I waited till my physical.”

“On Sept. 18, they found a tumor in behind the sternum. The tumor was too big to operate on.”

Six to Nine Months

Upstate University Hospital doctors, where he was treated before, found stage four adenocarcinoma.

“Chemotherapy only works 10 percent of the time,” Colasurdo said. But without treatment, the prognosis would be six to nine months to live.

“I decided to do chemo,” he said Aug. 13: 12 sessions, one every two weeks.

Half way through, the tumor had shrunk to almost half.

“That was great news, between chemo, diet and faith and prayers,” he said.

The tumor was small enough where it could be removed by surgery.

But that would mean replacing his aorta, the major blood vessel that runs along his spine.

For him, it was too major a move, that could mean paralysis with a major operation.

“I am more concerned about quality of life than quantity,” Colasurdo said. “We decided to do another round of chemotherapy. After that, the tumor didn’t shrink anymore. But it hasn’t grown.”

Colasurdo is in the midst of a three-month break from chemo. He’ll have another scan and decide on a course.

‘It’s Always Good’

The Rev. Daniel Nicewonger, 50, was humbled to hear of Colasurdo facing cancer for a third time.

He knows what cancer is like. The former youth pastor at Memorial Baptist Church in Cortland, he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2016.

“I am doing well now. Life is good. It’s always good,” he said, even though his cancer did return since an April story on his book, “The Journey Continues.”

“I can’t imagine that,” he said of Colasurdo’s travails. “It’s an overwhelming thing. … You have to be an incredibly strong individual. No two cancer journeys are the same.”

Five people with the same diagnosis, going to the same hospital, getting the same treatment will have five unique experiences, he said.

“The body responds to treatment in different ways: emotionally, spiritually, physically,” Nicewonger said. “The support system is different,” he said.

He said it’s important to respect how people walk those journeys.

Nicewonger would say to Colasurdo:

“You need to honor what is that you are feeling, what you are called to do.”

‘God Is In the Midst of It’

“It sounds like to me that’s what he’s doing. ‘I am going to pursue the treatment … Take a break and get the most of life, whatever it is. Whatever God has for me,’” Nicewonger said.

“And then I would say, ‘That in the midst of it — and it being life — all the struggle, (all the hardship), God is in the midst of it, to o er comfort, peace and joy in difficult circumstances. Especially in difficult circumstances.’”

It’s an issue Nicewonger must deal with, too. “My cancer came back,” he said. He and his wife, Nancy, were devastated.

“It started growing again in my liver. We were going to start doing chemo again,” he said. But instead, doctors did a one-day outpatient procedure: “They put two knitting needles into the liver and used microwaves to kill (the cancer).

“Instead of six to eight months of chemo, I did one day outpatient and it took a week to recover,” Nicewonger said.

It took care of that particular spot. But there is still some cancer in the liver. It’s not growing though.

“We’ll see, wait and watch. For me it’s more of when.”

‘I Want to Enjoy Life’

Lisa Perfetti, director of community health at the Cortland Health Department, said her agency doesn’t collect statistics on repeat cancers in individuals, so she couldn’t say how unusual it is for a person to have cancer three times.

“People ask how you do it,” said Ron Colasurdo. “I am lucky to push it back into my mind and enjoy the next three months. I just enjoy my day.”

He feels good, but tires easily. He’s not working as he recovers, but he babysits Kaleb Guinn, his best friend’s son, and Kaleb’s puppy.

“He keeps me young,” Colasurdo said. “He talks to me all day about computer stuff.”

And Colasurdo shares his life with his partner Nancy Estabrook.

“Now I’m just trying to get myself back in shape after chemo, one day at a time. Fortunately I have good insurance. That plays a part of it,”he said.

“I don’t want to waste any time on something I don’t have control over. I want to enjoy life,” Colasurdo said. “And I don’t know why this happens three times to me. I don’t ask, ‘Why me?’ Why not me. As I get older, it hits harder. I want to relish and enjoy life. If I get through this, I will find some work.”