Date auction proceeds benefit former U student with cancer

Phi Kappa Psi earned more than $1,200 to support a student’s Relay for Life team.

Vadim Lavrusik

Aleksandr Ablamunets has been battling cancer for the past six months. And if it weren’t for his friends, he said he doesn’t know if he would be here.

“When there are so many people fighting with you, you have no choice but to keep fighting,” he said.

Aleksandr Ablamunets, a former University student of accounting and entrepreneurial management, has osteosarcoma of the spine, better known as bone cancer.

First diagnosed four years ago, Aleksandr Ablamunets was treated for cancer in his knee. The cancer resurfaced this September, when doctors found a tumor in his spine.

He said he had two choices: go through radiation therapy and possibly die within a year, or find one of the six trained doctors who would attempt to remove the tumor. One of those doctors, Mark Dekutoski, works at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Aleksandr Ablamunets dropped out of school mid-fall semester and decided to go through the 20-hour-long surgery because it is the only potential cure. But chances were that he would not be able to walk because of it, he said.

“I woke up, and I wasn’t paralyzed,” he said. “I was lucky.”

He said it would have been hard going through the surgery alone, but after the surgery friends filled his room.

“I would have 25 people in the room,” he said. “The doctors would get mad because people were always there.”

Some of those friends were members from Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, which included Aleksandr Ablamunets’ cousin and best friend, Aleks S. Ablamunets, an accounting and operations management junior.

In an attempt to help Aleksandr Ablamunets, Phi Kappa Psi held a date auction Thursday.

The auction’s proceeds of more than $1,200 will go toward Aleksandr Ablamunets’ Relay for Life team, which will then go to the American Cancer Society, said Clint Been, president of Phi Kappa Psi.

Been said members of the fraternity knew about Aleksandr Ablamunets’ situation because he had been over to the fraternity house before, and some of the other members worked with him over the summer.

He said the fraternity would have participated in Relay for Life themselves but couldn’t because of conflicts with Spring Jam.

The fraternity then decided to give the proceeds of their date auction as a way to “support a brother,” he said.

“He is one of the most ambitious people I know,” he said.

Aleksandr Ablamunets was going to rush the fraternity but wasn’t able to because of his health.

His cousin, Aleks S. Ablamunets, said he has been close to his cousin all his life, almost like brothers.

“It’s hard not having him around in school,” he said. “Sometimes I am torn between school and wanting to be there for him more.”

But he said he was thankful in being able to support him through the date auction. He never asked for the help, he said.

“He is the type of person who never asks for anything,” he said. “He puts himself out there to help other people and because of the way he does that it was an easy choice for other people to step up and help him.”

He said he is optimistic about his cousin’s recovery “but you just never know.

“It shows trends of recovery and the very next week it could turn around,” he said. “I don’t know; I am not a doctor.”

After surgery Aleksandr Ablamunets wasn’t able to walk for some time, but now uses a cane.

He is in the process of recovering from surgery and undergoing chemotherapy until May. During his free time he does others’ taxes to make some money.

According to Mayo Clinic’s Web site, osteosarcoma is very rare with about 2,000 people diagnosed each year. It is most prevalent in people between the ages of 10 and 30. The cure rate is 65-75 percent.