© Jason Lenhart/The Advocate
Colton Zigo, 17, sits Tuesday in front of a wall at Newark's Career and Technical Education Center that showcases the support people are showing for his battle against Hodgkin's lymphoma. Zigo, who beat his cancer the first time with chemotherapy, has decided to fight it homeopathically this time.
Newark -- Before his 16th birthday in 2010, Colton Zigo started having pain in his back.
After numerous tests and a misdiagnosis, it was determined Colton had Hodgkin's lymphoma.
In January 2011, Zigo underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, lost his hair and was sick for two consecutive weeks.
In April of that year, the cancer went into remission. But this March, while he was a junior at Career and Technical Education Center in the electronics and computer technology program, Zigo received the news that the cancer had returned.
That was a blow to his parents, Becky and Tom Zigo, of Alexandria.
"That devastated us," Becky Zigo said. "We thought we were done with everything."
But this time, Colton didn't want to go through chemo again. Instead, the young man chose to fight it homeopathically on all fronts, through a combination of massage therapy, reflexology and special natural medication, as well as eating healthier.
"I came up with the decision since the first time it didn't work," Colton said. "It was one of those feelings you get that just felt right."
Through a friend, the family found a homeopathic doctor. But the lymph nodes in his neck swelled up to the point that it was hard to open his mouth wide enough to eat.
Children's Hospital let the family know about an experimental drug -- not a form of chemotherapy -- that only targets the cells that are cancerous. So new that it doesn't even have a name yet, only a number, the drug recently was approved by the FDA. The drug is taken by infusion and requires no hospital stays.
"He didn't want to miss his senior year at school," Becky Zigo added. "His faith is very strong and even when I was scared to death and bawling, he looked at me and told me not to worry. He said he knew everything will be okay. He has had faith in God from the beginning."
Since the infusion on Sept. 14th, the swelling in his neck is subsiding and the pain is gone.
"I'm not planning on letting this take over my life. I don't believe I'm stuck with this (cancer)," Colton said. "I think I can overcome this."
"It seemed we had a peace about it when they told us about this drug," Becky Zigo said. "We trust God for everything and we believe we are on the path we are supposed to be on."
Colton returned to C-TEC to find the wall opposite the guidance counselor's office covered in well wishes from the student body. The messages included sentiments such as: "We all miss you," "Keep Fighting," "Everyone's got your back" and "Hang tough."
Colton found that support overwhelming.
"I do think it's working," Colton said. "I'm feeling a lot better."
The family does have insurance, but none of the homeopathic treatments are covered.
An account has been set up in his name, Colton Zigo, at PNC bank.
Fundraisers have been held at Northridge as well as C-TEC.
Bright green (the color representing lymphoma) bracelets with his name and the slogan, "Fight strong" are still on sale at C-TEC and a future raffle will be held for a iPad.
All the proceeds will be donated to Colton.