Students Beating Cancer: Nick Calvaresi


Tommy White

A junior’s survival story and a life-changing experience.

CancerOn November 4, 2008, at the young age of 10 years old, junior Nick Calvaresi was diagnosed with brain cancer. At the time, he thought it was no big deal.

“I didn’t really know what [cancer] was at first,” Nick said. “I just thought I had some sort of sickness.”

Nick originally thought that is was just a really bad headache, so he thought that after all of the cancer testing, he would just go home. However, Nick’s CAT scan wasn’t clear about what was going on and he went to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania to get an MRI.

It was after that MRI that doctors concluded Nick’s headaches were a result of a small tumor in the cerebellum of his brain. The cerebellum is responsible for posture, balance, and coordination of movement.

“My parents were very emotional to this news,” Nick said. “They were very sad that I had to stay in [the hospital]. I never thought it would be a long term commitment.”

After being diagnosed, Nick had to get brain surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia so that the tumor could be removed. He was in the hospital for about a year. Nick had a lot of visitors while he was in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He got a lot of visits from the Downingtown community in which he lived. He was attending the Brandywine Wallace School in Downingtown. He did various activities to keep him occupied, including coloring, but he was very excited when he was discharged from the hospital after a year of recovery.

“I have a scar in the back of my head where they entered,” Nick said. “I don’t remember anything after they began the procedure.”

But it wasn’t over yet, he then had to get chemotherapy treatment in Jacksonville, Florida, since it was the only place that was available at the time. So, he and his mother had to live there for a few months while he underwent the treatment, but he was able to go home for Christmas.

The daily chemotherapy consisted of one hour of laying in a bed in a straight fashion with a helmet that delivered the treatement. During his free time in Jacksonville, Florida, he was home-schooled just like he was at home. He and his mom would do various activities as well. For example going to the zoo, going to football games, and various outdoor activities. It was kind of convenient in the sense that it was winter during the time, so it felt nice to do these outdoor activities.

After a few months of living in Jacksonville, Florida, Nick was finally cleared to go home. For the rest of his life, he will only go into the hospital for checkups. At first he would pretty often, like once a week. Every year the amount of checkups get smaller.

“Now I go in once every half year for a checkup. It went from year stays to only half year stays, then quarter year, all the way down to where I am now,” Nick said. “It will eventually be once every year, and I think it will be once every four years after that.”

“I was very happy because I could go home and live my regular life,” Nick said. “I didn’t want to be that kid whose life was lived at the hospital. It felt great sleeping in my own bed.”

Nick is very thankful for the support that he got. He said that it was great seeing all the people who cared about him. As a cancer survivor, he helps out at many organizations. He will also be helping out the cancer awareness event that cancer survivor junior Andrew Clark and his family will be hosting.

“I would say to anyone who has cancer that they should keep fighting, that it is a hard experience, but you can get through it,” Nick said.