SMITHFIELD — While receiving treatment for three types of cancer, Smithfield’s Joseph Passaretti said doctors and nurses repeatedly told him he needed to share his story. The only problem, said Passaretti, is he didn’t know what that story would be.
Passaretti said he’s always approached life pragmatically, seeking solutions for issues rather than living in the problem.
So in January 2017, when Passaretti, who is a certified public accountant, received two cancer diagnoses from his doctor, he quickly responded, “What’s the plan?” His doctor, Dr. Emily Robinson of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, responded that she knew that would be his response.
A biopsy confirmed cancer in his kidney, which traveled to Passaretti’s lungs, heart, kidneys and bone marrow. His prognosis was not the best. One cancer was treatable. The other, a more rare cancer, amyloidosis, was not.
Passaretti said his oncologist, Dr. Jacob Laubach, recommended that he join a research study, warning that it would probably not do much for him but it would help with the study.
Passaretti participated in several studies, and his doctor wrote a paper on his response to treatment.
“They were fascinated by my positive attitude. I got up every day. I think it’s important to keep normalcy in your life. I always believed that normalcy helps you heal,” he says.
He said the doctors called his positive attitude “drive,” and that’s the way he’s always lived his life. If he isn’t feeling well, he just gets up and goes about his everyday activities.
Over the past year, Passaretti finally sat down and wrote his story, “My Journey,” published by Christian Faith Publishing. He said once he started, the words flowed for two or three months until he was finished.
“My Journey” tells the tale of Passaretti’s treatment and his positive approach throughout, that same attitude doctors say is why they believe Passaretti is responding so well.
Though still in treatment, Passaretti’s blue eyes glimmer as he declares that he doesn’t look sick.
“I haven’t changed at all,” he said.
Two years ago, Passaretti said he was given only a few months to live. Now, he said, he’s got at least 10 years.
“At this point, something else will kill you before cancer gets me,” he told The Valley Breeze & Observer.
He said his goal in telling his story was to help another person dealing with cancer perhaps adjust their attitude and feel better.
Passaretti said his happiness is like having a stool with three legs, with each needed to keep the stool sturdy. The first leg is him and his attitude, the second is the doctors and their straight talk and commitment to Passaretti, and the third is God.
“I don’t have to worry about that leg,” he said.
Passaretti said he didn’t feel sick before his diagnosis, though he was perhaps a bit short of breath climbing the steps up to his office.
Even in treatment, he never gave up his routine. Instead, he brought work to chemotherapy treatments, rarely taking time off. He said he kept no secrets about his condition. Never shy about his diagnosis, he told his employees to tell his clients the truth about where he was when he was not in the office.
“No one wants to feel like they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes. I knew it was important to be honest,” he said.
As for work, Passaretti said he has no plans to retire. He said he still enjoys working and loves that he can work everywhere.
Passaretti said he’s received an overwhelming response to his book, which is available just about everywhere.
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