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Sal DiMasi, Wife Surprised By Lung Cancer Diagnosis In Prison

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WBZ-TV's Lisa Hughes Lisa Hughes
Award-winning journalist Lisa Hughes is a news anchor for WBZ-TV News...
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BOSTON (CBS) – The biggest bombshell for convicted former Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi and his family this month wasn’t the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear his appeal, but a note in his prison medical records from 2012.

As Debbie DiMasi explained to WBZ, it’s a lung cancer diagnosis neither she nor Sal knew about.

“I was stunned when I saw it,” Debbie said. “He was stunned when I told him.”

Debbie DiMasi says she made the discovery three weeks ago, 17 months after her husband was treated for head and neck cancer in prison.

“They administered entirely different chemotherapies to him and he ended up getting pneumonia right after that,” she says.

DiMasi was convicted on political corruption charges and sentenced to eight years in prison. His wife says his location makes it hard to get answers.

The sentencing judge in 2011 recommended the Devens facility in Ayer. But the Bureau of Prisons said no. The former speaker is at the Butner Medical Prison in North Carolina. He sees his family about every three months.

“There’s no reason he can’t be up here,” she says. “He’s not getting any treatment. They are just now doing follow-up PET scans. And I just think it’s really cruel.”

“He is an inmate who wasn’t given a death sentence and should be treated humanely.”

Debbie DiMasi says she’s learned of several inmates who were refused treatment, including her husband’s former cellmate who, she says, was ultimately diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“He died five days later,” she says. “How sick he was all those months and they wouldn’t see him.”

She says she’s never been more worried.

“He’s very, very thin. He’s lost close to 60 pounds and just cannot gain any weight.”

Sal DiMasi’s next full-body scan is in April.

The Bureau of Prisons sent WBZ-TV information that says he should have access to those tests as soon as they’re done. Debbie DiMasi isn’t sure that will happen.

Her husband is scheduled for release in November 2018.

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