By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO July 18, 2006 There are few nightmares worse than being diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, modern medical technologies have allowed many people to fight the disease and live long lives.
But there are no guarantees.
For Erik Rosen of Roscoe, a 1986 graduate of Monticello High School and an investment banker, he is in the fight of his life against Hodgkins Lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed in September 2005.
Rosen is the son of Nathana Rosen and the late Bob Rosen, a well-known local attorney.
A delay in the diagnosis has put Rosen a couple of steps behind in his fight, but he has been moving rapidly with treatment against the disease. However, he has also had some setbacks.
He harvested his own stem cells and went through eight months of chemotherapy, which destroyed his immune system. The chemotherapy drug he took, bleomycin, damaged his lungs as well.
This week, he will be receiving a stem cell transplant, which should revive his disease-fighting capabilities lost in the chemotherapy.
Next week, he will undergo a bone marrow transplant. For the next three weeks, he will be at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
The trouble began for Rosen when he couldnt breathe for 18 months.
I couldnt walk across the street, he said.
His doctor was slow to respond to the initial symptoms. The doctor gave him steroids, which temporarily cured his pain. But the drug hid the deeper underlying problem, which was not detected until he saw a chest specialist.
After a CAT scan, the doctor detected the cancer, which was in advanced stages.
Thats when friends, family and former Monticello classmates stepped in.
The Rhulen Rock Hill Run and Ramble donated $2,000 for the testing of bone marrow for transplants like Rosens.
And on Saturday, about two dozen classmates from the Class of 1986 joined him at the Monticello Firehouse to donate blood for a national bone marrow database.
Suzanne Rhulen Loughlin, who organized the annual run, said she hoped the blood drive would bring awareness to people about Eriks disease and the importance of donating blood for bone marrow transplants and to fight other diseases.
There are a lot of needy people, she said.
Kristen Timmermans, a fellow 86 graduate who organized the blood drive, said, Its pretty serious what hes going through. . . . Its not an easy thing. Its expensive and takes a major commitment.
Rosen called the donations by his classmates very nice and generous.
Each of them gave their blood to the New York Blood Center, which sent staff for free.
The graduates were in town for the 20th high school reunion that weekend at Mr. Willys. They all regarded the former Student Council president quite fondly.
Even Rosens former teacher, Wendy Levinson, who was with her husband Michael (who also helped organize the Rock Hill Run and Ramble), stopped by to donate her blood.
He was a great kid, a good student and always has been a personable guy, she remarked Saturday.