Somerton man celebrates cancer survival

Sev­er­al dozen friends and fam­ily mem­bers of Somer­ton’s Nick For­gione gathered re­cently at the Boulevard Diner to cel­eb­rate his 30-year can­cer sur­viv­al.

For­gione, 90, was dia­gnosed with colorectal can­cer on May 9, 1983, at the old Rolling Hill Hos­pit­al. 

After the dia­gnos­is, he shunned chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­ation in fa­vor of diet, ex­er­cise, vit­am­ins and faith. He likes to say that his doc­tor “fired” him for ig­nor­ing tra­di­tion­al can­cer treat­ments.

For­gione hasn’t been sit­ting in a rock­ing chair for the last three dec­ades. He be­came a cham­pi­on bi­cycle racer and a speak­er and pro­lif­ic fun­draiser for the Amer­ic­an Can­cer So­ci­ety.

The high­lights of his cyc­ling ca­reer in­clude a ride from Fox Chase Can­cer Cen­ter to the White House when he was 66. He’s climbed the Manay­unk Wall and biked with Tour de France win­ners Greg LeM­ond, Miguel In­durain and Lance Arm­strong. He’s been a gold medal-win­ner at the In­ter­na­tion­al Po­lice Olympics, been in­duc­ted in­to the Pennsylvania Po­lice Hall of Fame and been honored by the U.S. Sen­ate and House.

For­gione at­tends Mass daily at St. Chris­toph­er Church, where he is a lect­or, ush­er and Euchar­ist­ic min­is­ter. He has at­ten­ded 101 re­treats as part of the Men of Mal­vern. And he is a 58th Ward com­mit­tee­man.

All the while, he’s over­come pro­state can­cer, a severe bowel ob­struc­tion and a mild heart at­tack. He and his wife, Nora, will cel­eb­rate their 69th wed­ding an­niversary in Oc­to­ber.

At the May 5 cel­eb­ra­tion, state Sen. Mike Stack presen­ted him with a cita­tion. A likely can­did­ate for gov­ernor, Stack made a spe­cial an­nounce­ment.

“Nick is go­ing to be my po­lice com­mis­sion­er,” he said.

The af­ter­noon in­cluded a roast, mu­sic and gag gifts, in­clud­ing a Sur­viv­ors Brag­gart Cer­ti­fic­ate. 

For­gione is a North­east High School gradu­ate who served in the Navy dur­ing World War II. Later, he worked three years at East­ern State Pen­it­en­tiary be­fore join­ing the Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­part­ment. He worked in the high­way patrol di­vi­sion. He’s proud to be the old­est liv­ing former high­way patrol­man and Boy Scout from the former St. Bonaven­ture Par­ish in North Phil­adelphia.

In later years, he worked as a private in­vest­ig­at­or. For­gione, who cel­eb­rated his 90th birth­day at Boulevard Diner last Ju­ly, in­vited the crowd back for a fu­ture party.

As one guest said, “Cent’ anni,” Itali­an for “hun­dred years.” ••

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