JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – Happily ever after has not come easy for Peter DeAngelis and his fiance.
It has been about a year since the Johnston resident was told he had one day to live, and that was only the latest disgnosis of stage IV lung cancer.
“I don’t know why it’s happened that I’ve survived this three times,” DeAngelis said. “Most people don’t survive stage IV even one time. That’s why it’s called stage IV.”
It was Dorian Murray who inspired DeAngelis to stay positive as he battled the disease.
DeAngelis was already diagnosed when he volunteered to drive the Westerly eight-year old to a 2016 Patriots playoff game.
After deciding with his family to halt treatment for a rare form of cancer, Murray made a wish to be famous, inspiring the hash tag, “D-strong.”
“It’s like my little logo,” Murray said at the time. “You have to stay strong for “D.” Stay D-Strong. Stay Dorian strong. Stay strong for Dorian.”
DeAngelis, who now crafts custom jewelry since he cannot yet return to work as limo driver, will never forget what Murray taught him.
“He never stopped fighting no matter what,” DeAngelis said. “All the way to his last day.”
DeAngelis’s third round of chemo was underway when COVID-19 made life even more difficult.
“Right now it’s still very dangerous for me to go out there and do anything,” DeAngelis said. “Even just going to the convenience store is a challenge.”
Just to be safe, DeAngelis and his fiance Brittany Palladini postponed their August 1st wedding but then found out their venue was double booked for their new date next July.
That’s when Michael Mota, the owner of Skyline at Waterplace, doubled down on an earlier offer to pay for their reception, even though vandals had just caused thousands of dollars in damage during the June riot.
“Even after his business was destroyed for no reason, he was still very positive to us,” Palladini said. “He said, ‘Don’t you worry about anything.’ Mike has been great.”
DeAngellis said he does spend much time feeling sorry for himself about the roller coaster ride that includes the downs of cancer and the ups of remission. Then, a corkscrew of sorts with another bout with the disease, remission again and the pandemic that led to postponing his wedding.
Instead, he said he considers only his “blessings.”
“The fact that we’re still getting married,” DeAngelis said. “And I’m still alive is a blessing.”
The final step in his recovery will involve a bone marrow transplant but he said his doctors have told him that won’t happen until there’s a vaccine for the virus.
“I have no complaints,” DeAngelis said. “No complaints, no matter what we’ve gone through. Just no complaints.”