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Teen who nearly died celebrates at Connetquot prom

Connetquot High School seniors Tyler Ponzio and girlfriend

Connetquot High School seniors Tyler Ponzio and girlfriend Courtney Campanella celebrate prom at Villa Lombardi's in Holbrook on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Credit: Ursula Moore

Almost anyone watching Tyler Ponzio on the dance floor at his senior prom would have trouble imagining that he was near death less than four years ago.

The Connetquot High School senior was diagnosed in December 2011 with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system that compromises the body's ability to fight infection.

He said his near-death experience happened on Dec. 27 during his first day at Stony Brook University Hospital for chemotherapy treatment.

"About five minutes after taking the chemo drug, I just fell back in my hospital bed," Ponzio recalled. "I was seeing stars. I couldn't breathe. I was in and out of consciousness. I could have died. There were about 20 people in my small hospital room trying to help me. I was code blue."

Ponzio was home-schooled during his freshman year but has been in remission since May 2012, he said. He subsequently returned to regular classes and said he was thrilled to celebrate senior prom with his friends at Villa Lombardi's in Holbrook Wednesday night.

Ponzio said he is thankful for all the encouragement he has received from friends and family, and that he is determined to succeed and live his life to the fullest. He plans to attend Limestone College in South Carolina and major in accounting.

"It was a tough battle," he said, "and I couldn't have done it without all of the support."


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