Parsons Professor and Wife Both Diagnosed with Cancer; Fighting Together
On February 14, Parsons professor Nathan Bond, 38, was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer. Nine days later, his wife Elisa, 36, was diagnosed with breast cancer. As the couple undergoes treatment, their health has become the subject of national news, resulting in a groundswell of care and love.
Nathan said the reaction has helped keep up their spirits. “Complete strangers are writing these really positive wonderful emails sending us love and prayers and positive energy and whatever realm that their belief system falls into,” he said. “One of the highlights of this has been the outpouring of humanity. It’s a beautiful thing coming out of such a horrible thing.”
Nathan, who has taught at Parsons since 2002, is on leave from teaching drawing and painting classes in the foundation year program and the illustration department. Elisa is also on leave from her job as a real estate broker at Corcoran Group.
Students and administrators at Parsons are in the midst of organizing a series of events for the Bonds. Steven Guarnaccia, chair of the illustration department, said dates and places have not yet been finalized, but that several projects are in the works, including a variety of art being donated by students, faculty and alumni, the sales of which will go to the Bonds.
Illustration senior Jackie Hahn is part of a group of students organizing the fundraiser. Nathan has never been her professor, but he had substituted for some of her past classes. “Nathan has a way of getting his students to look at things in a different way,” Hahn wrote in an email to the Free Press. “He gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you really push yourself. He also pays attention to every one of his students in an individual way and truly cares about helping everyone to make the best work they possibly can.”
The Bonds share the news of their trials on their two blogs, which they update regularly. One, which is titled ‘Help Elisa and Nathan in their Joint Fight Against Cancer’ was set up by family
friends to raise support. The Bonds initially created the other about their daughter Sadie when she was born. Both have thousands of followers.
The blogs are often deeply personal. Ten days after Elisa received her diagnosis, further tests revealed that she has stage four breast cancer. Despite having no symptoms, her cancer had spread to her liver, lymph nodes, and parts of her spine and pelvic bones.
In a March 5 post, Elisa wrote about the news with shock, anger and concern for her 18-month-old daughter.”This can’t be Sadie’s story,” she wrote. She said that she didn’t survive a grueling labor “not to get to watch this beautiful child grow up, graduate, travel the world, speak six languages, win ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ solve the Middle East peace crisis, cure ALL cancer, invent an app for teleportation, find the perfect partner, have kids and grow old.” While the Bonds have maintained courageous positivity, they’ve also prepared for the worst. Shortly after their diagnoses they drafted a will which included plans for Sadie’s care.
The Bonds’ harrowing story has caught the attention of thousands. The blog set up by friends of the family has already raised significant
donations. A Facebook page has also been created, which has been “liked” by 8,488 people. “I wish everyone could experience people that they have contact with on a daily basis telling them how much they care about them,” Nathan said. “I wish it happened more often.”
On April 26, a benefit concert is being held at The Living Room, where various artists will play Nathan and Elisa’s favorite songs. The couple hopes to attend, but may not be able to because their treatments are so debilitating. However, they are extremely grateful about the outpouring of generosity and care they are receiving.