Salvatore "Tory" Zabatino with Ol Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra during a visit to the Wax Museum. Photo courtesy of the Zabatino family
Hicksville resident Salvatore "Tory" Zabatino was first diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in March 2002 - just six months before his 21st birthday. A Marist College sophomore at the time, Zabatino immediately underwent blood transfusions and was admitted to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset where he underwent aggressive chemo and radiation therapy. During this time, Zabatino, who graduated from Hicksville High School in 1999, also endured numerous spinal taps and bone marrow extractions.
His diagnosis, however, did not discourage him from finishing college on time and graduating with his friends. Through e-mails and telephone correspondence, Zabatino finished the spring semester while in the hospital and was eventually allowed to return to school and in 2004, finished college, graduating with a degree in psychology along with his friends and classmates.
At the time of his graduation, Zabatino was still on medication and being monitored by doctors, but in September 2004 - just before his 23rd birthday, he was diagnosed as being in remission. His plans to go out and work in the "real world," however, were soon shattered when in November 2004, doctors confirmed Zabatino's and his family's worst fear - the leukemia had returned and a bone marrow transplant was necessary.
Currently, Zabatino is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and the search for a bone marrow donor is underway. In an effort to increase Zabatino's chances of finding a match, a bone marrow/blood drive will be held on Saturday, May 14 at the Rhona Silver's new Huntington Townhouse, 124 East Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All potential donors must be between 18- and 60-years-old and in general good health.
Monetary donations can be sent to A Cure for Tory, PO Box 7863, Hicksville, NY 11802-7863. In addition, home testing bone marrow tickets are available through the Gift of Life at www.giftoflife.org. For more information, call 822-9693 or visit www.acurefortory.com.
According to the American Cancer Society's website (www.cancer.org), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), is a type of cancer that starts from white blood cells in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones) called lymphocytes. In most cases it quickly moves into the blood. It can then spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and testes.
Also referred to as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute lymphoid leukemia, ALL is a common leukemia. According to the National Marrow Donor Program website (www.marrow.org), about 4,000 new cases of ALL are diagnosed each year in the United States and it is an acute leukemia, meaning it is a disease that gets worse quickly.
ALL is not inherited; it is caused by a change in the cells in the bone marrow. In most cases, no one knows why this change occurs, but a few environmental factors - including high doses of radiation and exposure to toxins before birth or in early childhood - are linked with ALL.