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.” ••