Peter Scalzo ’84
Attorney and Partner at Gager, Emerson, Rickart, Bower and Scalzo, LLC
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.”
Posted on June 24th, 2011