Why does it seem that the people who are most full of life, the happiest, the most passionate, endearing, and beloved fall prey to terrible illnesses? My cousin, Amelio is one of these people. He was a passionate musician, playing mostly for close friends and family. In May 2010, his father passed away from stomach cancer. Amelio mourned his death for one year, as is traditional for Greek families, and did not play or even listen to music the entire time. When the mourning period was over he came to life again. He started playing music. He & his wife, Faith, bought their first home and were making plans to start a family. Now, at 38 he is fighting for his life.
Amelio first began walking with a limp, experiencing tremors in his lower right leg and a weakness in his right ankle. After several visits to and tests performed by his primary physician and a local neurologist, a brain MRI was performed on December 9, 2011. A tumor was found on the left side of his brain, pressing on the motor nerves for the right side of Amelio’s body. On December 15, 2011, Amelio underwent brain surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to remove the tumor and have it biopsied. Amelio was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer—Glioblastoma Multiforme. He started with the conventional treatment including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The initial surgery to remove and biopsy the tumor, while effective in decreasing the size of the initial tumor, caused paralysis of the right side of his body. He's all but completely lost the use of his right arm and has very little mobility left in his right leg. He can still walk, thankfully, with the use of a cane and relies on a wheel chair for long distances.
In 2012 he started a new treatment, Avastin, which promised to be revolutionary in the treatment of cancer. We were all given new hope and held our breath as we waited to see the results. Unfortunately, one of the many negative side effects of this drug is that it prevents the body from healing properly. The incision from surgery reopened and lead to the procession of several subsequent surgeries attempting to close the incision. We held our breath again as it was a long five months of surgery after surgery to help him heal. In those five months he was taken off any cancer-fighting treatments because now the more immediate risk to his life was serious infection. His incision would have to heal before he could resume treatment of any kind. Stage 4 Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer. We needed a miracle to get him through those five long months without any treatment of any kind. When he finally healed and was well enough to resume treatment, an MRI of his brain revealed that there had been little or no growth! A miracle indeed. It's almost unheard of with his type of cancer. It became apparent that conventional treatment options were diminishing his quality of life, while making no promises for improvement in the future.
In August 2013, Amelio began experiencing intermittent headaches. The headaches progressed to being constant and debilitating by the beginning of September. His September 5th MRI showed substantial growth of the tumor with extensive swelling causing considerable pressure in his brain. Amelio’s medical team at Sloan had nothing more to offer him to treat his cancer. The only option available would treat the symptoms and help him be more comfortable but the cancer would progress and there would be no way to stop it.
Our family is not ready to see Amelio leave us. This is unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to make sure he beats his prognosis and drives the cancer out of his body. On September 11, 2013, we visited a highly regarded doctor of natural medicine that specializes in oncology. Since starting treatment, Amelio’s headaches have subsided! We are in constant prayer and firmly believe he has a very long, active life to live. Unfortunately, this natural course of treatment is not covered by insurance. Amelio and Faith have had to bare a heavy financial burden.
The family is starting this website to help them cover the cost of Amelio’s life-saving treatment. We are trying to reach the goal of $175,000.00. Any donation is greatly appreciated.