Chippewa student dies after cancer battle

By: Alex Szwarc | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 6, 2019

 In March 2018, former Chippewa Valley High School student Anthony Verdezoto had a seizure while at school. He was later diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, and died July 23.

In March 2018, former Chippewa Valley High School student Anthony Verdezoto had a seizure while at school. He was later diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, and died July 23.

Photo provided by Anthony’s Attack Against Lynch related Brain Cancer on Facebook

 Chippewa Valley High School student Anthony Verdezoto passed away July 23 at the age of 16. He is seen here in June 2018 with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in New York City prior to a Joel concert.

Chippewa Valley High School student Anthony Verdezoto passed away July 23 at the age of 16. He is seen here in June 2018 with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in New York City prior to a Joel concert.

Photo provided by Anthony’s Attack Against Lynch related Brain Cancer on Facebook

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Anthony Verdezoto’s recent health journey ended in a courageous battle.

The 16-year-old Clinton Township resident and Chippewa Valley High School student died July 23 surrounded by family and friends.

In 2018, Verdezoto suffered a seizure and was later diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, a type of cancer.

Anthony is survived by his parents, Benjamin and Diane Verdezoto, and siblings Megan Verdezoto, Andrew Verdezoto and Derek Verdezoto. Diane is a paraprofessional at Miami Elementary, which is part of Chippewa Valley Schools.

“I started at Chippewa in October 2018, so I never got the opportunity to know Anthony,” Chippewa Valley High School Principal Todd Distelrath said. “In my short time at Chippewa, I’ve learned that even though it’s a big school, it really is a family and you always see people pulling together and supporting each other.”   

A Facebook page, “Anthony’s Attack Against Lynch related Brain Cancer” was created last year and indicated that while at school he suffered a seizure. The seizures continued for the next seven days in the hospital.

Doctors soon determined that Anthony, a freshman at the time, had a lesion in his brain. A biopsy determined that he had a grade 3 brain tumor, which meant brain cancer. He was diagnosed with Lynch syndrome.

Cancer.net describes Lynch syndrome as a type of inherited cancer syndrome associated with a genetic predisposition to different cancer types, meaning that people with the syndrome have a higher risk of certain types of cancer.

Shortly after Anthony died, a Facebook post indicated that the family had been approached to donate his brain to research because of how rare his case was.

His oncologist said the research autopsy went smoothly and involved coordination of over 12 researchers.

On July 25, Anthony’s friends and classmates came together at the Chippewa Valley High School football field to offer each other support and celebrate Anthony’s life. Counselors and staff were on hand to offer assistance.

“We wanted to be together to talk about and remember Anthony,” Distelrath said.

He added that more than 100 students showed up, which says a lot about Anthony.

“When there’s 600 kids in a graduating class, for him to be known, remembered and celebrated by so many students really speaks to him,” Distelrath said.   

Theresa Herrod, who works at Miami Elementary, posted on Facebook that following Anthony’s journey has taught her much.

“Anthony has really made an impact on how I do and react to things,” she wrote. “It was a heartbreaking journey, but I’ve never seen so much strength from one person. He has really brought the community together and always with a smile on his face.”

As is school tradition, Distelrath said a purple ribbon will be hung at the high school and there will be a moment of silence for Anthony on the first day of school.

He said a big wish of the Verdezoto family was for Anthony to graduate with the class of 2021.

“We’ll look at what we can do when the time comes to include Anthony in that celebration,” Distelrath said.

Visitation was July 27-28 at Kaul Funeral Home in Clinton Township. A celebration of life service took place July 28, also at Kaul.

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