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Senior, 22, loses battle with cancer

By : Rachel Coker

Jonathan Ozimek should have marched in next week’s commencement. He should have celebrated his 23rd birthday in July. And he should have enrolled at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine later this year to become a pediatrician.

But cancer claimed Ozimek’s life last week. He died May 1 at his home in Pennfi eld, near Rochester, surrounded by his family.

Ed Ozimek said Jonathan, the youngest of his four children, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 14.

Over the next nine years, Jonathan Ozimek had three bone marrow transplants and progressively more aggressive chemotherapy.

He had many ups and downs over the years, but managed to enjoy slightly more than four diseasefree years late in high school and early in his undergraduate career at Binghamton. He played soccer throughout high school and enjoyed rooting for the Mets and Steelers.

During his junior year at Binghamton, Ozimek suffered a serious setback.

“On Christmas Day, he said he didn’t feel well, and two days later he was in intensive care on life support,” his father recalled. “He had no immune system.”

Ozimek eventually went through more chemotherapy. He had a stem cell transplant from one of his sisters in March 2004 and seemed to bounce back, returning to Binghamton that September.

Ozimek studied for the MCATs and enjoyed being with his friends over the next year and a half, his father said.

His latest relapse began in April. He went home to see his doctor April 3 and returned to Binghamton after some tests. Ozimek returned home after the doctor said more tests were needed.

Two weeks later, Ozimek was admitted to the hospital. He couldn’t have chemotherapy this time because of the damage previous treatments had done to his body. When he didn’t respond to another kind of treatment, the hospital discharged him so he could be at home.

Ozimek’s father said about 20 high school friends visited the fi rst night after he left the hospital. Binghamton friends began visiting and calling soon after.

Ozimek, who studied at the University for fi ve years, pursued a double major in political science and biology and earned membership in several honor societies. Faculty members describe him as quiet and reserved, as well as responsible and dedicated. His degree was granted early so he could celebrate the achievement.

Edward Ozimek said his son had a positive attitude throughout years of diffi cult treatments. The struggle with cancer motivated Jonathan to become a doctor. “He felt that with all of his experiences and seeing the compassion that was given to him, he would like to pass that on to other people,” his father said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08