Vail local is winning the cancer battle |

Vail local is winning the cancer battle

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyNick Asoian, who was diagnosed with stage 2b-3b Hodgkins Lymphoma in September of 2008, was released from a Denver hospital last week. A scan last month for cancer cells in his body came back clear.

EDWARDS, Colorado – Take a look at Nick Asoian’s page and you’d think he just won the lottery.

Asoian, 30, might has well have won millions of dollars – his scan last month for cancer cells in his body came back as clear as a Colorado bluebird day. Hundreds of his friends posted messages congratulating him.

“It’s all coming together,” Asoian said. “It’s probably still going to be a roller coaster ride, but right now I’m on the upswing.”

Asoian, a Ski Club Vail coach and longtime local, was diagnosed with stage 2b-3b Hodgkins Lymphoma in September of 2008. He’s been through chemotherapy and other treatments that have taken a toll on his body, but it’s finally starting to look better for him.

“I’ve definitely come to realize more about what I want in my life,” Asoian said.

For now, Asoian just wants to have fun. After his second clear PET scan came back in late May, and the hospital in Denver released him last week, he has been overjoyed.

He posted “I’m free,” on his page on June 10 – free from the hospital and for now, from the treatments that have been wearing him down.

He got the OK from doctors on Wednesday to work out again. He knows he has to start small, but he’s looking forward to building himself back up physically.

“I love being active,” Asoian said. “I realized how much I love being in Colorado.”

Asoian worked as a snowcat driver at Beaver Creek last season, and, as much fun as he had doing that, he’s thrilled about getting back to coaching.

“I love my job – I’m excited to get back and get active,” Nick said.

Brothers’ bond

Asoian and his younger brother, Nate Asoian, 25, have always been close, but now the two share the same DNA.

Nick’s doctors had used his own stem cells to do a bone marrow transplant last year, but they found out the transplant didn’t work by late 2009.

“My lowest point was in January (2010), when I found out the transplant didn’t work,” Nick said. “I definitely got depressed a little.”

The doctors told Nick he needed another donor, and his brother would be the most likely match.

The chances of Nate being a match were even slim, but it turns out he was a perfect match.

“It was unheard of,” Nick said. “He was a perfect 10 match. There was only a 25 percent chance he could be a donor.”

Nate said the decision to donate bone marrow to his brother was the easy part – he was just hoping he would be a match.

“He’s my brother – what else would I do?” Nate said.

Nick said when doctors originally harvested stem cells from his bone marrow, it wasn’t as painful as it sounds. He had already been through chemotherapy and full body radiation several times over.

The worst of his treatments during the past year was a biopsy on his left lung. His chest tubes were removed too early from another procedure, and his lungs hadn’t finished draining fluids, he said.

“It compressed my lung on the left side – I was in so much pain,” Nick said. “They had to put (the tube) back in me while I was still conscious. I don’t recommend that to anybody.”

Now that a lot of the pain in behind him, Nick is just thinking about enjoying himself. He rode a motorcycle from Denver to Vail Friday afternoon, enjoying the wind on his face and the clear roads ahead.

He’s not necessarily finished with treatments just yet, but there’s no sign of cancer right now and that’s enough to keep a smile on his face.

“I don’t allow myself to think about the ‘What ifs,'” Nick said.

Nick said he doesn’t know what he would have done without all of the support he’s gotten from friends and family, and even strangers. People have come together for him and helped keep his spirits high.

“Everyone has been awesome,” he said. “The entire valley.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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