By Roya Giordano
Mathias is a very brave, brilliant 12-year-old kid, who loves soccer more than anything in this world. He plays for a Loudoun, Virginia, travel team and was a healthy, happy kid (still is happy) before cancer. Last July, as Mathias was getting ready to graduate 5th grade, he started complaining about a pain in his leg (below the knee). We assumed that it was either a soccer injury or simply growing pains. As the pain persisted, we dutifully applied ice or heat to eliminate the pain and proceeded to the steps of getting an X-ray which led to an MRI and then the news…there is a large tumor on Mathias’ fibula and that we would need to see an oncologist immediately!
Two days later we went to Children’s National Medical Center in Falls Church, Virginia, and met with the doctor who confirmed through another X-ray that the tumor had spread to his lungs. A CT scan and more MRI’s (of the chest) that weekend and on the following Monday we drove to Philadelphia to meet with the team of doctors at CHOP who were going to do the biopsy. The biopsy was done the next day and the port was implanted. All of this only 10 days after his initial doctor visit!
Upon our return home and follow-up visit, we learned that Mathias has osteosarcoma, and the size of the tumor was 21 cm! The doctor had a treatment plan all ready to go and Mathias started chemo treatment on July 31, 2012. Everything happened so fast!
To date Mathias has finished his 20th round of chemo. He now has one more to go (total of 21 rounds)! He has had had several trips to New York City, where at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital he had two surgeries on his lungs to remove the tumors (one surgery in Dec 2012 and one in Jan 2013)! The tumor itself was removed right below his knee in October 2012. With the tumor located in his right leg below the knee, we were forced to make the grim decision to amputate. And that was NOT an easy choice. Yet, Mathias is more “can do” than ever. He is determined to live an ACTIVE lifestyle that definitely includes rejoining his teammates on the soccer field!
And all through this ordeal fighting alongside Mathias was our younger son, Troy, and we send a great big shout out to him. At 8 years old, he was so brave and such a great helper and so supportive!
This July, we also want to thank the Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA) for everything that they do for Mathias and kids like Mathias in this world. As parents, we know how vital the work of the SFA is and want to remind everyone that sarcoma knows no boundaries and can strike at any moment. We reflect on the day before the diagnosis when Mathias was playing football in the yard, a healthy, active kid. For kids like Mathias, the work of SFA is pivotal and success means fewer children spending time in hospitals, doctor offices and in treatment pods, and more children spending time on sports fields, in classrooms and following their dreams.
We are happy to share our story of courage, inspiration and perseverance with you during Sarcoma Awareness Month 2013, one year after Mathias’ diagnosis of sarcoma. Staying focused and upbeat after all of these treatments, Mathias embodies the hope of the 50,000 people living with sarcoma today…patients, families and caretakers who are impacted by the sarcoma research, education and advocacy work of SFA.
Roya & Chris Giordano are the proud parents of Mathias.
UPDATE – 8/7/2013
Mathias had his last round of chemo on July 5th. When the pump read Infusion complete there was a wide range of emotions going through my head. Just to mention a few on the positive side: happiness, joy, hope, and accomplishment; on the other side: fear, the unknown about the future, and now what?
Mathias has been so strong through it all and he has amazed us with his positive spirit and smile. On July 8th as he was being discharged, he told the nurses and the Child Life specialists that he will be back to volunteer and play video games with the patients on the oncology floor soon.
He is enjoying spending time at home with his brother. Mathias is also finishing up math and science with his wonderful home-bound teachers and is planning to return to school in September stronger than ever.
Physical therapy and working with the prosthetist is also on the agenda twice a week. So as you can tell, he is keeping busy and trying to get back to life.