Michael Tantillo Memorial Fund





This donation request is to ask for help to repay my father for my Husbands' Memorial service.
This is my story...
For those of you that don't know me, I am 37 years old and recently lost my husband, Michael to stage 4 colon/liver cancer in May of this year. (2013)
He was only 47 years old...


He moved to Phoenix from Buffalo, NY 19 years ago.
We met and lived together here in Arizona.

In the last decade, he owned and operated an aesthetic laser clinic. I worked for him doing marketing.
Immediately after his diagnosis, he was unable to work due to multiple surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy and alternative therapies.
Because of his inability to work and run his company, he reluctantly had to close it down.
I was his primary caretaker and since I worked for him, we were both out of jobs for over a year and a half.
As a result, we were unable to pay our bills, but at that time our primary concern was saving his life...!

3 months after his liver surgery, in which they took out 2/3 of his liver in order to remove the massive tumor, they told us that most of his liver had now regenerated itself... we were extatic and so hopeful that he would recover!
Our hopes were soon crushed when the CT scan also showed that the liver had in fact mostly regenerated itself-but with over 20, scattered, inoperable tumors...
All of the doctors and surgeons told us there were very little options left for him at that point.

Although we were devastated, Michael was such an incredible and positive fighter, and refused to give up...he wanted to live!
We were advised to go to a hospital in Chicago that specialized in his type of severe case. So we gathered every cent we had and immediately traveled to Chicago.
We finally had hope again!!!
He enthusiastically had the procedure done.

3 months later, once again, we were devastated to find that the procedure had been too much for his new liver to take and sent it into complete failure.
All of the doctors said there was nothing more that could be done...
They told us to go home and make him as comfortable as possible.
To our horror, that's what we did.

We went back to Buffalo, NY so he could spend what little time he had left with his family.
I sat helplessly for over a month watching the love of my life suffer a slow and horrific death.
Something I can only describe as torture. For both of us and
I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.
His family even encouraged me to go home after a few weeks because it was too painful to watch.
I adamantly refused to leave his side or give up on him, just as I know he would've done for me!
I stayed with him around the clock doing what, if any
little thing I could to try and ease his incredible pain.

On May 15th, Michael lost his courageous battle.

A month or so prior, when we arrived in NY and Michael was still able to walk, talk and function rather normally, I was sat down by him and his oldest brother and told that although Michael did not have a Will, he had a life insurance policy in which his oldest brother was named the beneficiary. They then told me they all as a family had agreed to grant Michaels wish and to give all of the money to me-as his other two brothers were very well set in their lives. Both owning house(s), married, stabily employed, etc.
All of those things Michael had intended on providing for me, and now unable to do any of it.

Michael was very aware and concerned about the fact that I would be returning home with no money, no job and...no Michael.
But he was comforted in that his brother promised he would carry out his wishes and handle everything in the way Michael asked...
Upon my hearing this, money was the last thing on my mind!
-Michael was still alive and that's all that mattered!!
The last thing I wanted or cared about was money.
The only thing in the world I wanted was for him to get better and come home with me...but we all knew that wouldn't happen.

After he passed, I did return home to AZ just as they said...with no money, no job and...no Michael.
I soon realized that I had no choice but to try and start my life over, and remembering what Michael and his brother told me about the life insurance money, thought I would be able to try and get back on my feet again. At least financially... I could pay some bills that had wracked up for months, and I would be able to pay for a Memorial Service for Michael in Arizona so all of his friends here would have the chance to honor his memory.
I knew it was the right thing to do...
But, I hadn't received any of the insurance money yet, so I borrowed the money from my father with the intention to pay him back as soon as I was given the money.
His brothers came in town from Buffalo to attend the memorial and the day after the service, I was sat down, again by the oldest brother (the beneficiary) and was abruptly told that I would not be receiving any money at all.
He told me that he was entitled to the entire $100,000 amount and would not discuss it any further and that his decision was final.

I was shocked and hurt, to say the least, and terribly confused as to why he would not honor his brothers final wishes??

We then asked if he would at least repay my father for the memorial service out of the life insurance money,(since he used money from the life insurance to pay for the memorial he held in New York)
My father was told "No" and that the service was, in his opinion, unnecessary anyway.

I, now buried in debt, and without having worked in over a year, became terrified of how I was even going to survive.
However, I had no choice but to accept this, and I did...

Although Michael and I had a wedding ceremony and were, in our eyes, as married as anyone else, our marrage was never made "legal" on purpose, by Michael.
He feared that if we were legally married I would also incur all the major debt of losing the laser business and he didn't want me to go through that too.
But, because there was no marriage certificate, I also had no claim or right to what little he did have, including the insurance money...


I'm 37 years old, and I'm capable and not afraid to work hard and try to somehow recover no matter how many years it may take.

However, this donation request is not for me--It is for my father.
I borrowed the money from him to pay for Michael's Memorial Service, anticipating reimbursing him once I received the insurance money...but that never happened.

My father is retired and on a tight, fixed income.
He does woodworking on the side now for a little extra money.
Recently my mother told me he has taken on many long, hard, tedious jobs to make ends meet and pay off the debt he incurred from the memorial.
It breaks my already broken heart to see him do this...
He's 70 years old and should be enjoying the rest of his time with my mother, to whom he has been married for 49 years.

He has absolutely no idea I'm setting up this fund for him and would NEVER agree to it if he did.
He is, as he should be, a very proud man and would never ask for a dime from anyone.
But I love him so much and he loved Michael like a son from the very beginning and he would've done anything for him, and vice-versa.

In the 37 years I've been alive, I've only seen my Father cry once...and it was when he had to say goodbye to Michael.

I too, am not one to ask anyone for anything...but for my father,
there's nothing I wouldn't do.
So now, as a last resort, I'm asking for a donation-no matter how big or small, to help me somehow repay him for helping me honor Michael's life by giving him a Memorial.

(Above, My Father and I)
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Organizer

Joanna Tripodi 
Organizer
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