30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2020
In December of 2018, Luciano started to experience intermittent abdominal pain and low-grade fevers. This had gone on for a few days, and we had taken him to urgent care to be safe. Of course, when we get there, Luciano felt fine and was acting like a normal 7 year old boy. The doctor said maybe he just had a little stomach bug, but if his symptoms returned, to bring him back. Over the next couple of days, these symptoms persisted, and I just felt something was wrong. We then brought him into the emergency department. Again, you would never know anything was wrong, as Luciano was running around and playing. The physician assistant that had seen Luciano listened to all my concerns and thoroughly examined him. An ultrasound was ordered. The ultrasound had shown a possible lesion but they needed a better picture. Luciano then went for a CT scan. Nothing had prepared us for what was about to come next. The CT scan had shown a large mass in his abdomen. At this point, our lives had fallen apart. Our 7 year old baby boy has cancer. These are no words any parent should ever have to hear. Luciano was immediately admitted to the pediatric unit. Things started to move so fast. Everything was spinning, and I couldn’t breathe. Within hours, Luciano was prepped for surgery to biopsy the mass to see what kind of cancer he had. A broviac line was placed to begin treatment immediately, and he also had a bone marrow biopsy. Results came back that Luciano had stage 4 neuroblastoma. From here, life as we knew it would never be the same.
Within the last year and a half, Luciano had endured multiple rounds of various types of chemotherapy, numerous hospital admissions from neutropenic fevers to infections to surgeries, countless blood and platelet transfusions, two stem cell transplants, proton radiation, and immunotherapy. The hardest thing as a parent is to watch your child getting poked by needles, being hooked up to various machines, watch your child lose weight along with their hair, see the fear in their eyes and all you can do is tell them everything is going to be ok. Luciano is currently in the post consolidation phase of treatment and continues to show the true meaning of strength.
During the most difficult and darkest time of our family’s lives, a group of wonderful ladies from PCFLV reached out to me and immediately became a part of our family. They were there with us from the very start and have not left our side since. PCFLV provided our family with support that we didn’t even realize we needed at the time, as my family was just so lost. From gift cards for gas, groceries, traveling costs to emotional support, they were there. Luciano not only needed treatment at Lehigh Valley Health Reilly Children’s Hospital, but also at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Even when at CHOP, the support was always there. Thank you to PCFLV for all the wonderful things you do for pediatric cancer families. What you do will never go unnoticed, and you will forever be a part of our family and our journey.
Written by his mom, Margaret