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Bepis Battle Fund

$34,790 of $35,650 goal

Raised by 212 people in 15 months
Created March 20, 2018
Cholangio-What?   

"They do certainly give very strange, and newfangled,  names to diseases."  Plato

My uncle Mike, who is only 46 years young, was recently diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma - known as bile duct cancer.  It is known as the silent disease because there are no signs or symptoms until the cancer is in the advanced stage.  

Cancer - a word no one wants to hear!  That word has the ability to change your life!  Uncle Mike went from living a day to day existence of work, home, taking his daughter to school, dance lessons, Greek school, laughing and playing with her -  to one of doctor’s visits, being poked and scanned - just plain being scared, crying and feeling hopeless.   

WHO IS UNCLE MIKE?
 
Hippocrates once said, "It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”  
 
So, here are a  few things about Uncle Mike:  Uncle Mike grew up on the Northside.  He attended church at Holy Trinity.  He attended school at St. Pat's.   Some of you may remember Uncle Mike as “moose” from 9Muses – and  recently you may have seen him serving up drinks at Gene and Georgetti in Rosemont!   
 
Uncle Mike is a loving father, husband, uncle, son-in-law, brother-in-law, nouno and friend to many.  He does not have one ounce of meanness in him.  He always looks at the good in people. I have never heard him say "what about me?”   He always puts others before himself.  He is selfless.  A man that I have never seen cry has been so overwhelmed by emotions in just a few weeks - it breaks my heart!  I am proud to have Uncle Mike in my life and hope that I can be half the man he is one day.  

HOW DID IT START?

In September Uncle Mike noticed that his tummy was upset.  He thought it was from the stress and anxiety of losing his dad.   Then a week before Superbowl Sunday, Uncle Mike thought he had the flu because he wasn't feeling well.  It was Superbowl Sunday, although his team didn't win - he was excited that Philly won - since they never had a super bowl victory - he was even happier that the Eagles brought home a win to his family in Philly.  Anyone who knows Uncle Mike, knows that he loves sports!  You would think that he'd be jumping with joy that weekend- but uncle Mike was still not feeling well - so off he was to see the doctor on Wednesday;  he had blood work done in the morning and by the early evening, my nouna/aunt Gigi received a call from the doctor telling her to get uncle Mike to the hospital "his liver enzymes are all over the place".  

Uncle Mike had CT Scans, MRIs, and blood tests to confirm that he had a tumor in the bile duct and malignant masses in the liver; more testing later revealed that the cancer had infiltrated the lymph nodes.

Uncle Mike will begin chemotherapy and then radiation Y90 at University of Chicago.  Although at this point surgery is not an option for him, the goal is to hopefully have the tumor shrink so the doctor's can go in and resect - that means take it out.  We are hoping that in 3 months we see results - and results means shrinkage.  The doctors have explained that the process of chemo, radiation, scans and possible surgery could take up to 6 months!  
 
HOW CAN YOU HELP?

First and foremost PRAY!  It takes a village and I am respectfully asking that we all band together to help Uncle Mike.  Please pray and believe!  Uncle Mike has a beautiful six year old daughter who needs him around! My Aunt Gigi needs him.  My pappou needs him!  He takes such good care of my pappou!  His friends and family need him!  I need him!
 
My Uncle Mike and Aunt Gigi are proud people - It is very difficult for them to ask for  help - but my Aunt Gigi, Uncle Mike and Cousin Gabriella are going through a difficult time.  The medical expenses, pharmacy expenses, travel expenses, nutrition expenses and just basic living expenses are becoming too much!   That is why I am asking for help on their behalf.  Please find it in your heart to show compassion, selflessness and generosity - Please help my family - the medical bills have started to come in - and although, yes, they do have insurance - it does not cover all the costs.  

“Generosity consists not the sum given, but the manner in which it is bestowed.”   Gandhi

Thank you!
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What do you do when you feel like you are losing a battle? How do you find the strength to keep fighting?

God....and....our cholangiocarcinoma family who have helped us get through moments when we have felt lost and alone..... our family and friends for their love and understanding..... Mikes team of doctors at University of Chicago and Hinsdale who keep going after his beast....that's how we keep going....

We have had many ups and downs along the way...this time period is one of those downs...Please pray for Mike..and all those battling an illness....

Cholangiocarcinoma has been named the beast by many that have been inflicted by this cancer and now I understand why...it is so unpredictable....it rips your heart out and tries to take away your hope...it scares you...it wants to destroy your joy.....it is vicious.....it tests your strength...

Stupid beast...we believe and have faith..we will remain strong!

You got this Mike!
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What I learned this week.......

Mike speaks Italian and don't judge a town by it's name - Hinsdale.

When we heard the next step would be to go with Mike to Hinsdale for an appointment with the Interventional Radiologist (IR) , my sister and I cringed. Hinsdale, in our minds has always been associated with my dad's downfall - he was hospitalized there in the 80's and well....he was never the same when he came home :-(

On Tuesday, Mike met with Dr. Facchini to go over his Y90 treatment plan......The doctor walks in and introduces himself and Mike starts speaking Italian to him - like they've know each other for years.....Introductions were made with the rest of his staff and the plan was discussed.....

This is what it's going to look like for Mike for the next several weeks......he will continue to take a chemo pill - he is tolerating it ok - at least that is what he says - what do I see? he is in pain - but is just bearing it so that he can get on to the next phase...remember what we ultimately want is a resection....Mike is developing a terrible side effect from the Xeloda, called Hand and Foot Syndrome - his hands and feet are red, swollen, tingling and peeling - I am not really sure how he does it. My cousin Peggy and I were talking and she saw Mike's feet and she goes to me, "oh Helen, our Mikey - how does he do it?" If you are really curious on what the early stage of Hand and Foot Syndrome looks like there is a picture below.

Mike will go back to the IR (in the meantime we are attempting to get insurance approval) and get mapped (it's like a trial run) - that is when they insert a catheter through his groin - and map the area to be 'zapped' - the Therasphere (that's the radioactive glass microspheres use for this type of radiotherapy) will be ordered - that takes about two weeks for it to arrive - and then Mike will go back to Hinsdale to have the Y90 zapped into him.

Why is all this being done? The doctors are trying to shrink the tumor even more and grow his liver so that when they do go in to resect Mike will have enough liver so he doesn't go into liver failure......now, if you have stuck with me on this post and have read this and are thinking to yourself "WOW" - that is putting it mildly. I sat with Mike and the doctor on Tuesday as all this was explained to us - and Mike took it with stride - and then - well, how much can a person take - I saw him try to fight back the tears - but you could see that it wasn't sweat that was rolling out of his eyes - they were tears.

How much can one take? How much can a family take? God has been there for Mike and the family and your prayers and thoughts are definitely helping to keep their spirits up! Please continue to pray for Mike, and not just Mike, but all those battling some type of illness - please pray for strength and for a cure.

Much love and thanks to all of you!
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Here's some words for you: Interventional Radiology, Mapping, Embolization, Hypertrophy, Heptobiliary System, Bilary Leak

That is what we heard today when Mike sat in a very important meeting with his medical team at University of Chicago to discuss the next phase of treatment.

Mike will continue with chemotherapy and start Y90 which is a radio embolization procedure. Radio embolilzation is a directed technique that utilizes microspheres embedded with Yttrium-90 into branches of the hepatic artery. This is done through a catheter to the groin which allows delivery to the tumor. Hepatocellular hypertrophy is usually seen in the liver following exposure to such agents - this means this procedure is intended to increase the size of his liver. In order to proceed with resection, Mike must have 20-30% liver function - he is at 19%. The goal of this procedure is to increase the size of his liver - which will allow for the doctors to go in and take out the diseased liver. This is done so that he is not put at risk for liver failure. After the liver has grown, the doctors will then go in and resect and reroute the bilary system.

Please pray that during this time while Mike is being "prepped" for resection that no tumors grow and that it (can't even say the word) does not spread.

Here's another word for you: Scared

Mike won't say it - all he said was, "I'm ok, I just feel bad for all of you."

Feels bad for us, isn't scared - is he kidding - then I thought to myself, "No, he isn't" because, Mike is honestly the most selfless person I know - he will give you strength and encouragement instead of wallowing in pity.

Greeks will recognize this word "adikia" but that is how life is sometimes - it takes something to make you realize how precious life is and to see how truly kind and selfless a person is. My family is so very lucky to have Mike in our lives!

Here's another Greek word "talaiporithi" - yes, Mike will go through alot - so please keep Mike, and not just Mike, but all those suffering, in your prayers.

The best word of the day was: Optimistic
"We are optimistic. Mike is strong, young and we believe he can handle it."

Plato once said, "Courage is knowing what not to fear."
Mike - Do not fear this beast called cholangiocarcinoma. We love you!

For more information on this horrible disease, you may visit: https://cholangiocarcinoma.org/htt…//cholangiocarcinoma.org/
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Round 4, Day 8 starts today.....Koumbara Christina was all set to keep our Mike hydrated, fed and smiling today....it's a no go - no chemo today - Mike's counts are a little low so the doctor's are cautiously withholding chemo infusion today. Thursday the doctor's will meet and update us on their plan. The tumor has shrunk so hopefully we are heading towards resection.

Please continue to pray! Your kind words and love do not go unnoticed - Mike reads each comment and I can tell you that he is humbled by the outpouring of love and support.

Please pray for good results! Please keep Mike and all those suffering in your prayers!
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$34,790 of $35,650 goal

Raised by 212 people in 15 months
Created March 20, 2018
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