Gostomski's dog is, appropriated, a
shiba, a Japanese breed said to possess spirited boldness, courage
and self-confidence. Adam Gostomski, who has Hodgkins
Lymphoma, certainly has displayed those qualities during the past
His radiation treatments are scheduled to end, and the family is
expecting him to receive a clean bill of health. He has been
undergoing proton therapy as an outpatient at the University of
Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The radiation phase
will hopefully be the final stage of his treatment, which has
included chemotherapy sessions during the past two winters.
This will allow him to, among other things, get on with
his baseball. For his parents and two younger sisters, life
would return to a more normal routine, as well. According to
Adam, it was never a matter of if, but when.
"You just have to think positive," he said. "it's not that
hard - or for me it wasn't. I saw other kids suffering at the
hospital, but that whole attitude is why I'm standing here right
"It's been hard, his mom Anna countered. "You drive to the
hospital and see all the other families struggling like we are,
their children sick. It's hard to see your child sick.
You want to switch places, you want your child to be doing kids'
Adam played outfielder on his high school team and was on
the state championship Babe Ruth team last summer, but coming off
chemo treatment limited him and he never hit full stride. His
playing time was limited on varsity, but he expects to blossom and
return to the game.
Adam doesn't feel his illness changed him. His family begs
to differ."He's very cocky," his father Joe said with a smile,
looking across the kitchen as his son took a swig of his protein
"And also very strong," his mother injected. "He had to go
through these changes in his body and he's handled it great.
Even if it's with his humor or with this, 'Oh it doesn't botherme,
it wasn't affecting me,' he's handling it as best he can."
"You get nervous," she said. "He's a teenager. They
could go the other way, to the dark side."
His sisters also lived the nightmare, but they too
have been impressed with their brother not shutting down into
"He jokes around a lot," said Sara, a freshman at North.
"He takes things like cancer and turns them into a positive
"That's how he handles everything," said sister Maddy, 13.
"People say, 'Oh I'm sorry about this happening,' and he'll just
brush it off and make it lighter than it seems - which I think is
good for everyone around him. It probably scares them a
little bit less and probably scares hm a little bit less."
The juggling act has been stressful. Anna works in the
school district and Joe commutes to the New York Stock
Exchange. After his initial diagnosis, Adam had chemo on an
outpatient basis, five days a month for four months. The
return of the cancer necessitated, as the father put it, "a much
harsher course of chemo and the follow-up with radiation."
During chemo, the girls were stuck doing his chores and at times
helped with his homework.
"I let them do the coloring," cracked their brother, who has a
4.0 grade point average. "We're all a little closer," sara
said. "And I think less materialistic," Joe said.
"Because it's all about time. At least I know I am."
Support from friends, the community and the school district was
more than the family could have imagined. "People gave us
gift cards, they donated Adam and iPad, they cooked dinners, gave
the kids rides - you don't do it alone," Joe said. "You
really need help. And let people help you that want to
help. I think that's healing." "The school district has
been great, too," Anna said. "They've made sure his sisters
are doing well in their classes and that the teachers understand
there's something going on at home."
And of course thee was support from his baseball teammates. "I
knew his skill set," said Adam's high school coach Mike
Santoro. "But I didn't know how tough he is until last year,
when everything happened."
"He didn't want to leave the field, he didn't want to give up
baseball, and that's still the way he talks now. It's almost
as if nothing happened. He just plays it like nothing's going
on and he going about his business. He has the maturity level
of someone in their twenties or thirties," Santoro said.
"He's very strong-willed, and maybe part of it is he's been
through I guess what could be considered the grieving process and
he doesn't want to feel those emotions anymore, so he's just moving
on. I don't know," he said.
"When the cancer came back, the kids were obviously concerned,"
Santoro said. "A lot of them have played together since
Little League and Babe Ruth. But I don't think any of them
tiptoed around him. There was a scary time at the beginning,
of course, because you don't know what's going to happen. But
I think we turned it into a positive. We used it as a
learning experience for the kids. It's not every day that a
16-year-old friend has cancer."
One of those kids was Sid Kumar. "I couldn't believe it,"
Kumar said about hearing the news. "But then you'd see him at
school and you just started to forget about it. You
can't see it in his face that he has a really bad sickness."
"He's a really strong kid, obviously. He's had chemo
twice and he's in school almost every single day. Even with
all of this stuff, he's really down to earth. You would
expect guys to hate everything, to hate life, but he's th complete
opposite of that," he said.
Kumar expects his friend to be one of the better players in the
county next season, and said that there are no limits how far his
baseball career might take him. "He has that mental stability
because of what he's dealt with," Kumar said. "He won't give
up because he's been through the hard times. Even if he fails
once or twice, his mind set is to keep going. He won't
"Going through cancer, some people don't come out alive," Kumar
added. "He did , and he can tell the story."