Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Anthony Chiccitt wanted to know only two things: One, would he lose his hair? Two, could he play baseball?
Dr. Julia Meade responded with a resounding yes to each question.
While taking his SATs, Chiccitt’s dark brown hair indeed fell out in clumps onto his answer sheet. And, he did play baseball.
This spring, the Bethel Park junior started at second base and shortstop. He batted .286 with a .485 on-base percentage and helped the Hawks win a section championship and reach the Final Four in the WPIAL Class 6A tournament.
Chiccitt also maintained his 3.8 GPA, played basketball, lifted weights and prepared for his third season quarterbacking the football team. A two-year starter, he has completed 110 of 216 passes for 1,963 yards and 14 TDs.
“I don’t think people understand how sick Anthony was,” said his father, Matt. “People would see him on the field and think, ‘Oh, it must not be that bad,’ but they didn’t see the amount of work and effort it took just to get out of bed. There were a lot of days that were worse than others. The last week of his chemo easily was the worst. He threw up for three days but he did not miss school and he never missed practices or any of his other workouts and activities. He handled this far better than his parents did.”
Chiccitt indeed did. After rounds of tests, MRIs and biopsies, doctors diagnosed his condition. While his parents broke down in tears, Chiccitt remained stoic.
“We were crying and losing our minds,” said Matt and Kelly Chiccitt. “Anthony basically told us to stop crying.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said.
Chiccitt then texted his friends and likewise assured them.
“Yep, this is what it is,” he said of the disease he researched on the internet while waiting for his test results. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.”
Thanks to Dr. Meade and the medical staff at Children’s Hospital, Chiccitt indeed had few cares. She assured him that during his chemo treatments he could do whatever he wanted to do and that they were not going to interrupt his life. “It’s just a bump in the road,” she told the family. Life would revolve around Anthony and not around his treatments.
Chiccitt underwent the first of four treatments on Feb. 19. Each round followed a 21-day cycle. The cycle included going for chemo on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday followed by a shot at home on Thursday. All during the process, Chiccitt took a mixture of oral medication. He continues to take one medication. On Mondays and Thursdays, he would have blood work done. Chiccitt looked forward to those twice-weekly excursions. They meant a stop at Brueggers for bagels before going to school.
Chiccitt had his last chemo session on April 30 and at a May 16 check-up. He and his family received positive news. His Pet Scan was clean, and on June 18 he had surgery to remove one lymph node under his arm. As a cancer patient, he will continue to get scanned every three months.
“Anthony is progressing nicely,” said Kelly Chiccitt. She added though that it’s not called remission until after one year. “So basically you worry as a parent every three months for that first year.”
Meanwhile, Anthony goes about his daily duties preparing for another sports season. He is a three-sport athlete at Bethel Park. In addition to baseball and football, he also is a member of the varsity basketball team.
“I’m doing pretty good,” he said. “It was awesome to be finished with the chemo. It’s relieving.”