Peter DeAngelis, Stage 4 Lung Cancer Patient, Will Climb 29 Floors of One Financial Plaza for Lung Association

Johnston’s DeAngelis determined to reach top and inspire others

(February 19, 2013)

It was less than a year ago that 33-year old Peter DeAngelis of Johnston received the shocking news that he had stage 4 Non-Hodgkins B-Cell Lymphoma in both of his lungs. Peter is a nonsmoker. DeAngelis, who had always been healthy, stayed active and was an avid BMX bike racer, was having recurrent chest pains and thought he had better have it checked out.  His life changed instantly. Almost immediately after being diagnosed, DeAngelis underwent Rituxan treatment chemotherapy infusions.  And while his treatment has gone well and his most recent PET scan looks promising, spots remain present on many of his lobes. The cancer that is there remains inoperable.   Peter DeAngelis

“I know the cancer is still there,” says DeAngelis.  “And that is something that’s always on my mind.” But Peter is determined to not let lung cancer stop him.  As a lung cancer patient, DeAngelis is acutely aware of the importance of funding research.  He says it is only because of research that there is hope for finding new and better ways to treat lung cancer.  That is one of many reasons he has decided to get involved in the Lung Association’s ‘Peak the Plaza’ Fight for Air Climb being held in Providence on February 23, which raises money to support lung cancer research, as well as advocacy and education.

The amazing thing is that Peter won’t be on the sidelines cheering the climbers on – he’ll be climbing himself – and he’s determined to reach the top of One Financial Plaza no matter how long it may take.  "Even if I came in last place, just finishing would feel like a first place win for my family, friends, followers and myself,” says Peter.

DeAngelis explains that he has always been a person who is not easily deterred. He grew up with Tourette’s syndrome and, despite the challenges of that disease, managed to attain the rank of Eagle Scout- a feat he considers one of his greatest accomplishments.  Many of his closest friends to this day are fellow Eagle Scouts.

 “I told my doctor that I wanted to participate in the Fight for Air Climb and he gave me his okay,” says DeAngelis. “I am participating not only because the money raised will support lung cancer research and important advocacy efforts, but because I want to inspire others to have hope, to donate and to participate themselves.  Maybe someone is out there who is on the fence about participating and will think, ‘ If a stage 4 lung cancer patient is going to climb these stairs, then so can I.’ “

 DeAngelis asked his friends and family for support by contacting them via email.  He initially posted a message and a link to his fundraising page , which explains why he is climbing, on Facebook.  That post was the first some of his friends learned that he was battling lung cancer.  He had been struggling with how to broach the topic with some, and posting about the climb provided the perfect entrée.

“Several friends reached out to me with personal messages and some just went on to my page and donated,” said DeAngelis.  “It was emotional; I am so grateful to everyone who took the time to go through the process of making a donation to support me.”
 
While DeAngelis had been restricting his physical activity since his diagnosis, he’s been practicing for the climb when he can by walking up stairways at local buildings.  He’s found that they key is pacing himself.

DeAngelis says that those who know him would not be surprised to learn that he found a positive way to cope with the shock and uncertainly of lung cancer.  “My nickname since I was a kid has been ‘smiley,’ said DeAngelis.  “I can be going through something very difficult and still I smile.  Why?  Because life is good; I am happy and I love my life.” 

Participants can join DeAngelis and others who care about putting an end to lung disease by climbing up the 597 stairs of One Financial Plaza at the Fight for Air Climb on Saturday, February 23. The event attracts both elite athletes and novice stair climbers alike.  Participants can choose to race, run, or walk up the stairs.  All funds raised support the Lung Association’s mission to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through research, education and advocacy. 

‘Peak the Plaza’ is generously sponsored by Kindred Hospital Parkview of Central Mass, GTECH, MetLife, One Financial Plaza, Amica Insurance, WJAR NBC10 and Rí Rá Irish Pub Providence. The event is also made possible with the support of national Corporate Team sponsor, Kindred Healthcare. To register and to learn more about the Peak the Plaza Fight for Air Climb in Providence and other Fight for Air Climbs being held throughout the Northeast, visit climbofyourlife.org
 
To make a contribution to support Peter DeAngelis in his Fight for Air, visit his personal page. Those with questions about the Fight for Climb in Providence and those interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Elise Kerrigan at provclimb@lungNE.org.