Chuck DiPietro knew he had a significant fight on his hands in 2016 going up against Stage 4 colon cancer that had moved into his liver.
But the unkindest blow of all for the 50-year-old Batavia man came when the ensuing chemotherapy treatments caused severe neuropathy in his hands. It took away one of his true loves of playing the guitar.
"They put me on a vitamin regimen and cut back on one of the component's of the chemo cocktail, and it resolved itself," DiPietro said. "So it was fixed and I was able to play again."
This was important for a man who found music to be a soothing component for most of his life, especially when undergoing 12 rounds of chemotherapy and four surgeries to fight off the cancer.
DiPietro wasn't going to take his music for granted any longer. After being in the church band at St. Charles Free Methodist Church and its leader for nine years before having to step down because of the treatments, DiPietro took that same sort of role in forming a Music Support Group at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva.
He views LivingWell as a key in keeping him positive and focused through his ordeal.
From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month, DiPietro invites any other patient, survivor or caregiver to show up at LivingWell, 442 Williamsburg Ave., with an instrument and to play music together.
"On a regular basis, it could be anywhere from just one person to six or more showing up," DiPietro said. "It really depends on who is feeling up to it, who is in town, who is traveling, and that sort of thing."
At the moment, DiPietro has to put himself in the category of hoping he feels up to it. A reoccurrence of the cancer showed up on his liver recently, and after another surgery, he is about halfway through another six-treatment chemo round.
"I had good results with the chemo in the past, so I signed up for it again, but it is difficult," he said.
Mostly, the music group and the atmosphere at LivingWell keep him going.
"LivingWell is a fantastic group of people and a great resource for anyone going through this, from family members to caregivers and others," DiPietro said. "I get as much out of the musicians group and center as anyone does."
About that steel:
Too bad President Donald Trump would never talk to editors who have covered the steel industry for decades before deciding what to do about tariffs.
He could have asked Tim Triplett of St. Charles, the executive editor of Steel Market Update, his thoughts on tariffs at this time.
"Outside of the steel industry, President Donald Trump's plan to impose a 25-percent tariff on steel imports, ostensibly to safeguard national security, is being roundly criticized by U.S. manufacturers that depend on a ready supply of affordable steel and by economists who warn that such a protectionist policy could ignite a ruinous global trade war," Triplett said.
"Even within the Trump administration and the Republican Party, there is strong disagreement about what's the best course of action for the U.S. economy, not just for the steel sector."
Triplett notes that the U.S. steel industry has indeed suffered the past few decades from low-priced imports from China and other countries, but it forced the U.S. to turn itself into "a modern domestic steel industry that produces the highest quality, lowest cost steel in the world."
Competition from imports has subsided in recent months in anticipation of the tariffs, Triplett said, causing the price of steel to spike dramatically.
"Indeed, U.S. mills report record earnings of late, making the timing of Trump's tariffs even more questionable," he added.
Triplett said some view the tariff "as a tax on American consumers," and many are hoping it is just a scare tactic to get more concessions from Canada and Mexico on trade.
My sense is our president needs to talk to our steel expert in St. Charles.
Those radio days:
When first arriving on the Tri-Cities scene in 1977 as a cub reporter, and then as a sports editor the following year, I encountered an aspect of local media I hadn't seen much before.
It was WGSB 1480-AM radio, a station that truly covered the news, sports and people of the Tri-Cities. Over time, it changed on-air personalities and some of its focus, including the call numbers to WFXW.
But the premise was the same: Give local people a local radio station. How many in the area wouldn't have enjoyed that last weekend when the Geneva girls' basketball team was winning a second straight state title? That's what the local station used to deliver from 1961 to 2001.
In those later years, I called the station each morning to provide an on-air rundown of the morning paper to deejay Robin Lange. That tradition ended when the station went off the air.
A panel of former employees of the radio station that operated out of the building on Richards Street in Geneva for years, and then out of a former home on the east side of St. Charles, will gather to reminisce from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at the Geneva History Museum's Brown Bag Program.
Cost is $5 per person and $3 for museum members; attendees are encouraged to bring a lunch.
Not a bad combo:
Many times, my wife and I have gone to Kohl's in Batavia and then stopped at Aldi in the same retail strip to pick up a few groceries.
So, we have experienced what it would be like to combine those two entities.
And that's apparently what these retailers have in mind, in reporting last week their intentions to introduce an Aldi segment inside certain Kohl's stores.
We don't expect to see it happen here, because the stores are already so close to each other. But it makes sense for other towns or states.
After all, examples abound with this sort of setup in which clothing and housewares are combined with a grocery option. They are known in these parts as Walmart, Target and Meijer.
Right place, right time:
It was the perfect time to be strolling along First Street in downtown St. Charles on a Sunday morning -- because we walked right into a table of Girl Scout Cookies and a group of young girls selling them.
After my purchase, it was like uncovering a hidden treasure. I don't know how long S'mores cookies have been part of the Girl Scout product line, but they sure are a welcome addition.
These cookies serve my sweet tooth quite well and, of course, help the Girl Scouts.