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The battle presses on

Chernisky keeps hope alive through cancer treatments

Bob Chernisky (right) received a fruit basket from Rick Stearns (left) and Ray Fournier after giving an inspirational speech on his battle with leukemia at the Southbridge Relay For Life Kick-Off on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Adam T. Silva. (click for larger version)
January 13, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — Despite being diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, Bob Chernisky considers himself a lucky man.

During Christmas of 2009, while receiving treatment at the Dana Farber Center in Boston, he realized that most of the residents in the cancer ward were alone and had no visits from their families. Chernisky, who said he has never spent a day without encouragement and support from his family and friends since being diagnosed, arranged for a Christmas party, complete with Santa and gifts for all of the patients in the ward.

"I can't imagine how these people survive," said Chernisky, who has lived in Southbridge his entire life. "They have no hope, no one supporting them. I couldn't survive one day without the support of my family and friends. They are the reason I'm still here. I can't imagine what they are living for."

Chernisky was diagnosed with leukemia on Dec. 9, 2009. After being sick for several days with what he thought was a sinus infection, he developed a growth on his neck the size of a baseball. The doctor, at first, shared his belief that it was a sinus infection and the growth was due to inflamed lymph nodes, but once Chernisky mentioned his gums bled every time he brushed his teeth, he ordered a blood test that revealed the leukemia.

He was sent to UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, where he immediately began chemotherapy treatment. Surprisingly, the treatment did nothing to his body, neither positive or negative. A more intense chemotherapy treatment was tried and once again, his body did not react in any way.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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