Telus and Starbucks Welcomes Matteo
Teaching Lasting Lessons
It is difficult for most of us to conjure up an image of a little and energetic three year old running around with a medical bag attached to his body. For Matteo, the bag is the reality of his young life now. It is a life that he lives with joy, happiness and enthusiasm that only a child such as Matteo can live.
When Matteo was only 16 months old, he began to experience severe abdominal pain. Numerous visits to the doctor and emergency room failed to adequately determine a diagnosis.
After his health continued to decline, another visit to emergency made the shocking discovery that Matteo had an extremely large tumour on his bladder. The diagnosis was Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Of those diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, only one percent are young children such as Matteo.
The tumour and 20 percent of Matteo’s bladder was removed immediately and he began 54 weeks of chemo treatments.
Presumably life would now move forward for Matteo and his family which consists of mom Lisa, dad Nino, nine year old sister Jayden and baby brother Nicco. The family believed that the worst was behind them.
When Matteo relapsed in May 2011, Lisa and her family went into overdrive to tend to Matteo’s every moment. Lisa, husband Nino and grandmother shared 24 hour shifts at the hospital during his lengthy stay. This relapse caused the total removal of his bladder and prostate resulting in the permanent use of the medical bag called an ostomy pouching system. Following the surgery Matteo also went through a grueling six weeks of radiation and an additional 54 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy.
"I miss seeing his little belly button," Lisa says. Matteo is wearing an adult size bag which hangs down almost to the floor and covers a better part of his stomach.
When Lisa recounts the long medical journey in such a short life, she is astounded by Matteo’s resilience and determination. "He’s so sweet, loving and good natured. He’s now so excited over his new found independence as he’s not known anything other than being sick. He’s a responsible little guy who takes his shoes off at the door and even empties the bag on his own."
Matteo’s wish is to go to Atlantis and swim with the dolphins. As with everything, he is very excited to be travelling with his family and spending time away from hospitals, treatments and doctors. It will be a very special time for everyone to come together and enjoy being a family again.
Lisa believes that Matteo’s medical ordeal has taught them lasting lessons.
"Matteo has taught us how to live. We live by laughing and supporting each other and I think we’re doing a pretty good job. We are moving forward in the best way possible way," Lisa says.