Tony was diagnosed with stage IV, high-risk neuroblastoma in June of 2006 when he was just 2 ½ years-old. Tony was complaining that his tummy hurt when he ate and he was waking up in the middle of the night sweating and crying. Since Tony's baby sister was due to be born in just 2 ½ weeks, his pediatrician gave him a thorough exam (including an abdominal ultrasound) and thus began his odyssey into the world of cancer. He immediately had 5 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by resection surgery to remove the tumor in his abdominal cavity. He then had 2 stem cell transplants, total body radiation, spot radiation and t-cell rescue. All the while, being the strongest, bravest boy and the best big brother any one could imagine.
8 years after diagnosis, Tony is still dealing with multiple side effects from his treatment including, but not limited to, high frequency hearing loss, cataracts that developed on both eyes resulting in lens replacement surgery, the loss of one kidney resulting in chronic hypertension and anemia, and growth hormone replacement treatment. His thyroid function is non-existent and he has to take Synthroid medication every day. He has developed a minor processing slow-down that makes school a bit more challenging but certainly nothing our little superman can't handle. His adult teeth only have 20% of the root structure that they are supposed to have so he has to be very careful about what he eats so as not to pull them out. Several years ago, Tony also developed something called SCFE (Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis) where the head of the femur slipped off the bone, requiring Tony to have emergency surgery to place titanium pins in both hips.
Even after everything he has been through, he enjoys going to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to "visit his friends.” When Tony is not at CHOP receiving treatment, he has been having FUN living the life of a typical 10 year old. He is in fifth grade, Boy Scouts and even earned a black belt in karate. Tony has been named a Hero Ambassador for ALSF and takes his job of raising money and awareness very seriously. He loves meeting new people and feeling good about the work the does. Anyone that meets Tony is amazed by his compassion for others - he's quick with an arm around the shoulder for anyone that needs a pick-me-up or a kind word of encouragement. He continues to be our inspiration every day!
Written by: Tony’s Mom, Karen Salerno
Updated: September 2014