Nick Pantalone remembered...


Nick Pantalone, who inspired friends and countless others as he battled a rare form of cancer, died early Sunday morning, his father said.
The Cedar Cliff High School graduate died at 4:30 a.m. at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
He entered the hospital about a month ago and died peacefully in his sleep with his family around him. He was 19 years old.
“The cancer just wore his body down,” said Vince Pantalone, his father. “He lived life to the fullest. He had no regrets. We as a family will miss him terribly, but we also know if all of us lived our lives like he lived his life, we’re better people for it.”
Pantalone’s death came about three years after he was diagnosed with desmoplastic round cell tumors, an aggressive form of cancer that usually affects young adolescent boys.
Despite continued chemotherapy treatments, surgeries and visits to several hospitals, Pantalone kept an upbeat attitude and continued to pile up the accomplishments.
He was valedictorian of his high school class and appeared in musicals and plays. He also was a sophomore at Lebanon Valley College, where he made the dean’s list, his father said.
Pantalone planned to become a manager at an amusement park after he worked at Hersheypark. He also was a fan of Pixar animated films.
In recent years, he became an ambassador for Thon — Penn State’s IFC/ Panhellenic Dance Marathon — which raised more than $12.3 million this year for children’s cancer causes and research.
Pantalone spoke to others about his fight with cancer and a speech delivered during family hour at Thon 2011 was so uplifting that several people made mention of it Sunday on social media.
“I’ve never had a problem with not staying upbeat because I’ve always had things to look forward to,” Pantalone once said, according to a story on the LVC website. “I don’t let this cancer change a part of me, so I continue living my life to the fullest. Whether it’s school musicals, or working at Hersheypark, or vacation, I always have things to look forward to.”
An outpouring of support emerged Sunday on Twitter as news of Pantalone’s death spread. People noted what an inspiration he was and offered their prayers.
Vince Pantalone said that his son was the youngest of five children and was fond of turning to a saying from the 2008 Pixar movie, “WALL-E.”
He would say, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live,” Vince Pantalone said.
“He has been an inspiration,” his father added. “Through his attitude and the way he went about things. Cancer did not dictate his life.”
Jeffrey A. Johnson | jjohnson [at] 
photo credit: JENNY KANE, The Patriot-News