Messiah Alumnus Transforms Cancer into Ministry

Peter Scalzo ’84

Attorney and Partner at Gager, Emerson, Rickart, Bower and Scalzo, LLC

Brookfield, Conn.

Faith and intellect. Discipline and imagination. Humility and aspiration. Students at Messiah College are regularly challenged to explore how two seemingly opposing entities can coexist and forge even greater strength when merged.

Peter Scalzo ’84, a business administration major and bible minor, can add two more:
Cancer and joy.   Suffering and purpose.
Since his cancer diagnosis in 2005, the 49-year-old alumnus has seen God use a six-year battle with cancer to not only solidify his faith, but to open new doors of ministry and service to individuals whose lives also have been similarly turned upside down by the disease.

“When I talk to people (who have been diagnosed with cancer), I tell them ‘Find God’s redemptive plan in the valley of the shadow because he always is faithful to have a plan for good,’” said Scalzo.

A father to six children, he was enjoying a thriving legal career as an attorney and partner at Gager, Emerson, Rickart, Bower and Scalzo law practice in Bethel, Conn.  Admittedly, in the early months after receiving the diagnosis of high grade bladder cancer, Scalzo and his wife Leslie struggled to find a positive aspect to the trial.  After the initial shock of his diagnosis had subsided, however, Scalzo gradually began to fight fear with faith and Scriptures that had been affirmed during his time at Messiah.

“When I was thrust into the world of cancer, I felt God’s absolute peace and assurance that he would use this for his glory and purposes — and he has by launching me into a pastoral care ministry,” said Scalzo. Eventually, he could be found visiting other patients with Bible in hand on his floor at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, NY. To date, he has had 11 surgeries related to his bladder cancer.

Today, Scalzo and another cancer survivor have launched a well-received Cancer Support Group at his home church, Walnut Hill Community Church of Bethel, Conn.  He also enjoys his one-on-one mentoring and what he calls “coming along side” those who receive a cancer diagnosis.

His former Frey Hall roommate and fellow business student Andrew Samuel ’84, who is the current chairman and CEO of Tower Bancorp, recalls that among the large group of business and finance students that comprised their social circle at Messiah in the 1980s, his friend already stood out in the crowd by showing signs of exceptional commitment to Christian service.   “Peter was a leader with strong character and a deep commitment to faith when we roomed together at Messiah,” said Samuel. “I am not at all surprised to see him use this experience to glorify God and do Kingdom work.”

And although he would never have asked for the trial of cancer, Scalzo remains grateful for how service can transform suffering.  “My life verse is Romans 12: 1 and 2 which states we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God,” he said. “God has used cancer to refine me into greater service, so that I am a living sacrifice, useful for whatever purpose he has for me.”

–Peggy Koach

Posted in 1984, About Leadership, About Service, Biblical Studies, Business, Leadership, Majors & Minors | 5 Comments »

Posted on June 24th, 2011

5 Responses to “Messiah Alumnus Transforms Cancer into Ministry”

  1. Hilary Scalzo Says:

    I am proud to call this guy my dad!!

  2. Patti Quartuccio Says:

    Beautifully written about a Godly servant named Peter. I work with Peter at Hopeline a CPC in Ct and Peter is our Board President. Peter is truly being used by God for such a time as this. He is honest,loving, caring and most of all he walks the talk!

  3. Betty McClung Says:

    I’m proud to call this man my son-in-law!! And I can happily attest to his godly character and positive attitude, even when under stress and difficulties. God has done a great work in Peter and brought him to a place where he is a blessing to all who know him! I love his sense of humor, even in the midst of trials. We are grateful to God for placing Peter in our family through marriage to our daughter, Leslie, and for giving us six of our eleven grandchildren. What a great God we serve!

  4. Dan Custer Says:

    Incredible story! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Emily Lewis Says:

    This is a truly inspiring story! I think so important to not forget that God is in control. For my Relay for Life team last year our team verse was Romans 8:28 ” and we know that in all these things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose” This is not promising that we won’t have struggles but that God can use them all for good. I find it so important to remember this.
    Is there any way I could get in touch with Peter to see if he might be willing or able to speak at our Relay for Life next year? thanks so much


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