Anthony and Jackie wanted to thoughtfully share this heartfelt journey. I hope you can take the time to read their story below.
It has been said that people are lucky to fall in love once in a lifetime. But the luckiest of those are the ones who fall more in love with that person each and every day. For Anthony and Jackie, they have this. “The Notebook” type of love that prevails through the toughest of battles.
In the early spring of 2020, during the height of Covid, Anthony and Jackie found out they were welcoming their first child into the world. They were working from home, enjoying each other's company, designing the baby’s room and truly appreciating life when the world outside was in chaos. But around June of 2020, Anthony started to have mild abdominal pain that was not accompanied with any other symptoms. This “pain” would come and go and it wasn’t until August that Anthony went for a routine checkup and cat-scan request from a Gastroenterologist; the results showed fluid in his abdomen and they were immediately recommended to MSK. On August 17, 2020, life dramatically changed for them.
Within 2 weeks, he was diagnosed with a very rare cancer/disease at age 33- Adenocarcinoma of the Appendix (appendix cancer), but the disease itself is known as Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) which is the presence of mucin in the abdominal cavity.
On September 21, 2020 he had what’s known as MOAS (Mother of all Surgeries) in Mt. Sinai hospital in which they removed his entire omentum, appendix, part of his colon along with debulking various other organs in which only 50% of the tumor burden was removed. After a brutally tough and long recovery, on October 14, they were told it was cancerous and he would need 6 months of chemotherapy with additional surgeries on the horizon to do what is known as a complete cytoreduction/HIPEC surgery.
Over the next few months, every 2 weeks, he went for chemotherapy infusions, with grueling side-effects both physically and psychologically (he was also alone because of Covid restrictions). On January 1, 2021, Anthony and Jackie welcomed Jack Peter into the world. Anthony, still under intense chemotherapy, continued to wake up for nightly feedings with the baby, make sure Jackie got some rest, attend doctor’s appointments, keep the house tidy etc. all while battling the side effects every moment of the day. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy did not yield the results they (we) had all hoped for. It was at that point that they sought more aggressive surgeons who were willing to go the extra mile regardless of the extent. Over the next few months, they packed up (baby and all) and traveled to Baltimore and then Pittsburgh to the leading surgeons in this disease but to no avail, both surgeries were aborted and he was deemed inoperable. The disease had spread far and wide with one surgeon describing the mucin as ‘cement’. Yet, every surgeon was confident, each one more positive and promising than the previous which made all of this even harder to understand.
In the last 19 months, they have continued to get kicked while they were down, and we are ready for them to catch their long-awaited break. While Anthony is currently in the hospital (second time in a month) for various complications (malnourishment, permanent PICC line for nutritional feeding and most recently, a bowel obstruction), the doctors have attempted to discourage them, explaining that Hospice care is his only option.
Although it has been one let down after the next, there have been two miracles we want to share-
Miracle #1: Anthony and Jackie tried for 2 years to conceive a baby. When they finally decided to do IVF, that same month, she became pregnant naturally after being told she would never get pregnant. Beautiful, Baby JP is now 13 months old.
Miracle #2: After Anthony’s diagnosis, they were instructed to quickly save Anthony’s sperm to have the option of potential future children before the intense levels of chemotherapy. However, they felt that they were blessed to conceive one child and their main priority was getting Anthony better. Yet, here they are today and Jackie is almost 5 months pregnant with a baby girl. We share this part of their story because they are living proof that miracles exist. Now, we wait for our 3rd miracle- Anthony’s healing and testimony.
They are scouring the country (and outside the country) for various treatments, both Western and Eastern medicine alike to see what will shatter this horrific disease. As we embark on these treatments, health insurance for these options is not accepted and the high-cost of each treatment is hundreds to thousands of dollars. For both of them, “throwing in the towel” is simply not acceptable for them. While Anthony has not been able to work, Jackie continues to do so in order to make sure they can support their family financially but also, to provide medical coverage. However, with all of the treatments they are looking into, plus another child on the way, they have come to the point of selling their home and seeking support from those who can help.
More importantly, they are people of strong faith and if supporting them financially is not an option, we ask for continuous prayer for complete restoration of health to Anthony‘s body through whatever method the Lord brings their way.
In unity, in faith and with love, we thank you all,
Anthony, Jackie, JP, Baby Girl Di Laura and all of our loved ones