Eric’s Story


It is easy to distinguish when it was that Eric became a large part of our lives. At the beginning of our freshman year Eric joined the cross-country team as a junior after spending some time on the hockey team in previous years. Despite being two years older than us, we quickly gravitated toward his energetic, fun-loving personality. During the two years before Eric headed off to college we would spend late Saturday nights after a meet relaxing in his basement with a movie or just simply listening to Eric play the guitar. Other times Eric would think up some crazy scheme to chase away boredom such as the time we helped him gut his old car and attempt to turn it into a tank or when he set up a zip line from the third story of his house to the ground. The fun however, could not last. After graduation Eric brought his energy to Northeastern University in Boston, MA. During Eric’s sophomore year at Northeastern we received heartbreaking news: Eric had been diagnosed with cancer. The story went something like this:

Eric Zagorda walked into a hospital his sophomore year at Northeastern University and told the emergency room nurses that he had leukemia. However, the nurses were skeptical that a 20-year-old boy diagnosed himself with a disease that many doctors miss every year. Eric was confident in his self-diagnosis because of the symptoms he had recognized from his sister’s battles with leukemia along with his own research. Eric’s younger sister Lauren passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 12 after being in remission for about four years. Once the doctors confirmed Eric’s diagnosis he was famous throughout the hospital. However, further tests revealed the seriousness of the leukemia. Eric’s prognosis was bleak leaving him with few options. He decided to take part in a clinical trial at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. After starting the trial, tests began to show a decrease in the number cancer cells in Eric’s body; the clinical trial was working. During the next two years Eric continued to improve. In the late spring of 2008 however, Eric’s condition worsened due to complications with the many medicines he was taking. Throughout the summer Eric continued to get worse and it was soon evident that there was nothing more that doctors could do for him. Eric began to lose the abilities to walk and even talk. Sadly, Eric passed away on October 15th, 2008 in the comfort of his favorite chair.

During the entire ordeal, Eric’s outlook on life didn’t change in any way as he continued his education at Northeastern University in Bio-Medical Engineering, volunteered at Dana-Farber, continued fundraising for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, volunteered at local high school classrooms to talk to students about cancer, all the while going through chemo treatments. Along side his ambitious efforts to better himself as well as others, Eric never stopped enjoying life. He always wanted to learn or try something new ranging from poetry, card tricks, throwing knives, and uni-cycling, to slack and zip lining, or juggling. He always had an active mind and body and wouldn’t have it any other way. Eric’s way of life has been an inspiration to us, for our trip, and to anyone lucky enough to know him or his family.


2 responses

20 03 2009
Amanda Vitti

I didn’t know Eric. I like to take pictures so yesterday I saw this beautiful cemetery and decided to take a stroll and get some shots when I came across Eric and his sister’s grave…I was struck by the ages on this grave and couldn’t understand how two siblings could of both died so young…so I googled his name and came across so many amazing articles on this young man…I sat here in tears as I read these words written about Eric and by Eric…he has made me appreciate life so much more then I have in just the few minutes I took to learn more about him. I cannot believe what wonderful person he was and it just saddens me that this happened to him, his sister and his family…I’d like to know if there is anything I can do to help raise money in Eric’s name? I know times are hard and they are for myself too..but he has touched me by his amazing strength and personality…there aren’t a lot of people in this world like Eric and it’s just too bad that the world won’t get to see the great things he could of done.

11 06 2010
Judy Heffernan

Hi Guys, I’m Eric’s aunt from Easton. Joanne just sent me the article in the paper and I just had to write in. I always knew Eric was a truly unique individual because of his zest for life but maybe that quality cultivated within those around him. I am truly impressed with the challenge you guys took on and I am proud to say you were my nephews friends. Best Wishes on you trek. Take it all in. Sincerely, Judy Heffernan

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