More Than A Survivor: An Interview With Nick Pantalone

Nick Pantalone, an 18-year old freshman at Lebanon Valley College, was diagnosed with cancer during junior year of high school. He fought the disease with never-ending tenacity and good spirits and it united the community around him. His story earned him a trip to speak at THON 2011, where he stole the show with his speech during Family Hour. You may remember him giving what could be described as the most inspirational quote of last year’s THON when he said, “I don’t want to survive, I want to live”. Nick will be back as the host for the Pep Rally at THON 2012 and I got the chance to catch up with him before the weekend kicked off.

How’s your health right now?

Well, I had three major surgeries at Memorial Sloan-Kettering between October and November. Right now I’m undergoing various experimental studies. I’m finishing up an experimental “tumor vaccine” at the National Institute of Health in Maryland. When the vaccine study ends in a few weeks, I’m not sure what will happen next. There are lots of options to try to battle my existing tumors, and I’ll continue to fight until I find an option that works.

How is school going for you so far this year?

I’m doing well! Classes are a bit more challenging this semester, but I’m enjoying college. It’s THON time of year, how can you be sad?

How were you chosen as the THON Pep Rally Host?

I was first contacted by Family Relations Overall Kaylee Tully. She said the committee thought it would mean more to have a Four Diamonds child host the Pep Rally. From there, I have been in contact with the Pep Rally Coordinators of the Entertainment Committee, Chris Schlitt and Andrea De Leon, about the script itself.

What was your favorite THON experience from last year?

I had many amazing moments last THON that I’ll never forget. The most significant moment was during my Family Hour speech. As I walked onto the stairs, I was incredibly nervous, but as soon as I looked up and walked across the stage, all of my fears escaped me. I figured everyone was on my team, so how could they not like me? I never could have imagined the reaction both during and after my speech. Having thousands of people cheering for me is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Also, I get to brag about leading that many Penn State students in a WE ARE chant!

What does THON mean to you?

THON is the bright sun that I keep in my pocket at all times. It’s always there for me. I know I can always count on the people involved with THON. THON weekend is the biggest party ever, celebrating the culmination of courage, strength, honesty, and wisdom of some amazing children. It’s also the spirit that keeps Penn State united, for one amazing purpose. I’m really excited to celebrate my second THON!

For some more reading on Nick and his life, you can follow and read his blog here.

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About the Author

Alex Robinson

Alex Robinson was Onward State's Acting Managing Editor/Resident Old Man. He lived in Harrisburg almost his whole life, but he says he's from California -- where he was born -- because that's more fun. He loves cats and Chinese food, but only separately. He met both Ben Affleck and Kanye West within a half hour, so the three of them are basically best friends. If you want to hear his #scorching #hot #takes, you can follow him at @ARobinsonPSU or email him at [email protected]

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