Gypsum man continues fight against cancer | VailDaily.com

Gypsum man continues fight against cancer

Kathy Heicher
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

Special to the DailyNick Luchycky, of Gypsum, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, and doctors later found that the disease had morphed into lymphoma. He began another round of chemotherapy and radiation earlier this year, and hopes to be out of the hospital in another week.

GYPSUM, Colorado – For a guy who has spent the past two years battling cancer, Nick Luchycky doesn’t complain much.

Since he was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in June 2008, his lifestyle has changed considerably. The 35-year-old Gypsum man, who was a three-sport athlete – football, basketball, and baseball – at Eagle Valley High School in the early 1990s, spends a lot of time at or near the hospital.

The initial treatments for leukemia started with chemo and radiation. Then a bone marrow transplant for the kept him at University Hospital in Aurora for months. When he wasn’t in the hospital, he stayed with his brother Matt’s family on the Front Range, who helped care for him.

He was able to return to Gypsum last summer, and things seemed to be going well until the past winter, when he began experiencing bone pain and back pain. That prompted another series of x-rays and cat scans. The doctors discovered that the original leukemia had morphed into lymphoma, a tumor-forming cancer involving the cells of the immune system.

In late February, he began treatment involving chemotherapy and radiation of tumors. On May 25, it was back to University Hospital for an umbilical cord stem cell transplant, used specifically for blood cancer treatment. He hopes to be out of the hospital in another week, but he won’t be far away.

Because of the risks of infections and fingers, he has to go to the hospital at least three times a week for blood draws. The doctors want him to remain within a 30-minute drive of the hospital.

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This time around, Luchycky’s sister, Michele, will be his caretaker. They plan to rent an apartment on the Front Range.

“I’m going to cook some healthy meals, try and get better, and try to maintain a cancer-free life,” Luchycky said.

He’s cutting some red meat out of his diet (but not going completely vegetarian), cutting out sugars, and eating more organic foods.

“My tastes changed. Some stuff, like a Philly cheese steak sandwich, don’t appeal to me anymore,” he notes.

Meanwhile, he’s dealing with the life changes. He is 50 pounds lighter than he once was. Luchycky acknowledges that he has some constant aches and pains. Sitting down on hard surfaces hurts.

“I miss my old body – even if it was a little chunky and out of shape. I definitely miss my strength,” notes Luchycky, “I had already lost my hair so, I can’t complain about that.”

He was last able to work in June of 2008. He misses his work as a survey crew chief for Archibeque Land Services, where there was always a construction site or a hillside to be surveyed.

During his hospital stays, he passes the time by surfing the Internet, answering e-mails, reading, and light exercise. A nurse taught him how to make beadwork bracelets, which he gives away to friends. He loves to play the guitar, and will entertain the hospital staff by strumming a few Beatles songs.

Luchycky admits there are days when he is a little stir-crazy.

“I’ve accepted that I have to do it (the hospital stays) in order to get on in life. I wouldn’t trade places with a lot of people,” he says.

Luchycky wants to thank all of his friends for their continued prayers and support over the past two years.

“Things appear to be on course. I just have to keep the right habits going,” he notes, “I look forward to getting healthy.”