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Changing Lives While Fighting for His Own

In 2003, Peter DeNardis ’83 was told he had six years to live, after being diagnosed with a rare, incurable lymphoma called Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia (WM).

“Suddenly, my vision of my future was compressed into a finite set of years,” says DeNardis. “All I could think about was how it would impact my wife and three young children. There was still so much I wanted to do with my family, so many more moments I wanted to share.”

Today, despite chemotherapy treatment and life-threatening relapses, DeNardis, who holds a B.S.B.A. in accounting from Robert Morris University, is still going strong and doing what he can in the fight to find a cure for the disease.

DeNardis works full-time as a management information systems administrator at the University of Pittsburgh and part-time as a lecturer at Penn State Beaver. He also works part-time as a computer and information systems instructor at RMU. In addition, he volunteers more than 40 hours per month for the International Waldenstorm’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation (IWMF), a non-profit devoted to support, education, and research about the disease.

“My intent is to raise awareness about the disease,” he says, “and perhaps spur others to support our efforts for this and other diseases. I just want to pay it forward for all the assistance I’ve received.”

Recently DeNardis was given the Jefferson Award, a prestigious national recognition honoring community and public service. The Jefferson Awards has more than 150 media partners across the country. DeNardis’ award was presented by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Heinz Endowments.

A board member of the IWMF since 2007, DeNardis also serves as their discussion list manager, providing emotional support to fellow patients. In addition, he reviews the limited research about WM and shares it with doctors, patients, and other caregivers in the hopes of improving treatment and finding a cure. DeNardis even helped to revamp and is working on expanding an online database that captures and consolidates medical data from patients around the world.

“Perhaps someday, all lymphomas will be manageable, curable illnesses,” he says. “But until then, we fight on.”

Written by Valentine J. Brkich

For more information about how you can support the International Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation, visit

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