By: Joe Nicholson

CEO Allows Top Aide With Cancer-Stricken Son To Telecommute

When Kip Cassino, research director of Knight Ridder, learned
that his 20-year-old son Daniel had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he
prepared to give up his job so he could be with his son as he
started chemotherapy.

Leaving San Jose, Calif., where he works at Knight Ridder
headquarters, Cassino joined his son, who lives in Tucson, Ariz.,
with Cassino’s ex-wife. Doctors said Daniel’s disease, a cancer
with an unknown cause, had advanced to stage four, the most
severe category, and put his chances of survival at 60%.

But just as Cassino contemplated the uncertainty of joblessness,
his boss, Virginia Dodge Fielder, vice president of research,
rounded up support from top executives for Cassino to
telecommute. Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder quickly gave his
approval and has asked Cassino several times about Daniel’s

“It’s a blessing,” Cassino said. “It allows me to be with my son
and yet not worry about how I’m going to earn a living. … You
don’t hear about this side of the industry enough.”

Every two weeks, Daniel receives chemotherapy – an injection
with “a cocktail of about four poisons,” Cassino said. Each
treatment leaves Daniel exhausted – sometimes his father
reads to him. “It takes about a week to get all better” after a
treatment, said Daniel, who has helped pay his way through the
University of Arizona by working full time as a features editor
and, most recently, the copy chief at the university’s The
Daily Wildcat. He was forced to give up his job, but he
continues to get high grades and will graduate this spring,
completing a four-year program in three years. He has been
accepted for a doctoral program in political psychology at the
State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Of his diagnosis, Daniel said: “You can never really be prepared
for something like that. It took about two weeks for me to get
over that period of shock.” The brave student hasn’t lost his
sense of humor. When an awkward interviewer referred to his
autopsy – rather than his biopsy – Daniel interjected,
“I’m not that far gone!”

Nor has he forgotten Ridder and Knight Ridder’s other executives.
Daniel said, “I’m exceedingly grateful.”

Joe Nicholson ( is an associate editor covering marketing and advertising for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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