BOSTON — Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has lost about 50 pounds in federal prison and continues to battle the cancer that his wife says went undiagnosed by officials for far too long.
DiMasi, 68, may also be facing a recurrence of the cancer in his tongue and throat despite intense radiation treatment that has left him unable to swallow solid food, Debbie DiMasi told The Boston Globe.
He has had bouts with pneumonia, has a feeding tube and sips at apple sauce and pudding and cottage cheese, if he can sip at all, she said.
DiMasi is serving an eight-year sentence after being convicted in 2011 for using his political power to steer state contracts to a software company in exchange for payments of $65,000.
Debbie DiMasi says federal prison officials took too long to diagnose her husband’s cancer.
Some of his suffering could have been avoided if prison doctors had examined him when he first reported suspicious swelling in his throat and neck, she said. Instead, his cancer was not diagnosed until months later – April 2012 – giving the disease time to grow and spread, Debbie DiMasi said.
“I do think it’s important for people to know what he’s gone through,” she said. “But this is a systemic problem, so it’s more than about Sal.”
The ex-legislator, who received the longest sentence ever for a Massachusetts elected official, has maintained his innocence. An appeals court is considering his request for a new trial.