On December 6, 2007, Mario was diagnosed with four inoperable brain tumors. I will never forget that day. Mario was holding his left arm to his chest. I asked him why he was doing that and not using it. I thought he may have fallen or bumped it. I brought him to the doctor’s office, they looked at him and said he may have fallen and may even have a pinched nerve. He said if you feel more comfortable just take him to the ER for some tests. That Wednesday night we were on our way laughing and goofing off on the car ride to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). They took him back right away and ran some tests. After waiting forever as we fell asleep at Mario's bedside, we were awoken by a team of doctors. As I opened my eyes and looked around I felt I was in a dream. They all came in with a look I wasn't prepared for. They told us that he had a brain tumor. I didn't know what to do first. I was hoping it was a bad dream. The next day they ran more tests to make sure it was accurate. They came back again with this look that I knew it wasn't good news! They said it was four inoperable brain tumors. HOW CAN THAT BE? I just didn't understand.
We were then met by the oncologists at CHOP. The news kept getting worse and worse. They told us that there wasn't anything they could do for him, and that he had 3 months to live. I wanted to die. I couldn't take the pain I had in my chest knowing that I couldn't do anything to help my son get better. I asked WHY? WHY my son and not a murderer that is loose on the street? They refused to do a biopsy on him because of the location of the tumors. After my husband demanding it, it was done. They came back and said that they can try to treat the tumors with chemotherapy. That chemotherapy that Mario was on was so strong. It was affecting his hips, which hospitalized him several different times for more than two weeks at a time. He couldn't walk. He would stay in the bed still laughing and smiling! No matter how much pain he was in, he was making every doctor & nurse that came in that room laugh so hard. The strength he has shown me throughout this is just amazing. After a year and a half of the strong chemo they decided to give his poor little body a break.
Then in June of 2010, another scan showed that a new tumor had grown. Here we go again. Hasn't he suffered enough? Again I asked WHY? I put my faith in the Lord’s hand and said that I will be strong and have faith that this chemo will work. They started him on a new chemo that required him to receive the treatment every week with no break in between. It was working, the new tumor was shrinking. I was so happy. On April 5, 2011 he had another scan. Another tumor had grown! Again WHY, WHY, AND WHY kept going through my head. So Mario went through another year of hard chemo – this chemo kept lowering his platelet counts and he needed blood transfusions. The part that killed me the most was that he couldn't eat his favorite chocolate chip cookies with milk when he had to take his chemo pills. He was quite upset but he never complained.
Mario finally finished his chemo at the end of March of this year because his tumors were stable again. Unfortunately, a week after he finished his chemo he started having seizures from the tumors. Again, I couldn't understand WHY. He was hospitalized twice and has been on seizure medicine twice a day. Mario gets scans every 3 months and we just continue to pray that everything is stable and that his seizures are controlled with his current medicine. We take one day at a time and thank the LORD for watching over him. He is always so happy and full of life. He is always making others smile. He is truly a HERO.
Written by Anna Carpino, Mario’s Mom