Cancer is without a doubt one of the scariest and most tragic diagnoses a person can receive. Stage-4, or metastatic cancer, is the scariest of all. This is what happened to Anthony Di Laura in September of 2020. It was made worse by the fact that he and his wife, Jackie Cucullo-Di Laura, were expecting their first child in just four months. After a course of miracles – including becoming pregnant with their second child – the Di Laura’s now need help.
The Rare Surgery That Might Save A Man With Stage-4 Cancer
In September 2020 in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, Anthony and Jackie were excitedly awaiting their first child, who would arrive in just four months’ time. That is when their joy was brought to a crashing halt. Doctors diagnosed Anthony with stage-4 cancer. Specifically, they diagnosed him with pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare cancer that begins in the appendix. (1)
About to have their first baby, the doctors suggested that Anthony freeze his sperm in case he and Jackie wanted to have another baby in the future. This is because Anthony needed radical surgery followed by several rounds of intense chemotherapy. Likely, the doctors said, he would be sterile afterward. Looking at the astronomical costs of freezing and storing the sperm, however, the couple opted not to. With that, the continued to prepare for the arrival of their son while also gearing up to battle Anthony’s cancer.
What Is Pseudomyxoma Peritonei?
As already mentioned, pseudomyxoma peritonei is a rare form of cancer that usually begins in the appendix. It begins as a small growth called a polyp. It eventually spreads through the wall of the appendix to the cavity lining of the stomach. The cancerous cells produce a mucus that collects in the abdomen as a jelly-like fluid. (2)
Pseudomyxoma peritonei develops extremely slowly. It can be years before you have any symptoms. Because of this, by the time of diagnosis, it has usually spread beyond the appendix. Doctors don’t know what causes it, but they do know it is more common in women than in men. Symptoms include:
- abdominal or pelvic pain
- not being able to become pregnant
- abdominal swelling and bloating
- changes in bowel habits
- hernia (a bulge in the tummy wall or groin)
- loss of appetite
- feeling of fullness
It is difficult to diagnose and is usually done using an operation to look inside the stomach called a laparotomy. Treatments include surgery and chemotherapy.
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Determined Not to Miss a Thing
At 35 years old, Anthony had his appendix and stomach removed. He then underwent several months of chemotherapy treatments. Despite all of the side effects and fatigue, he was able to attend the birth of their son, JP.
“We knew the future was going to be tough, but we were delighted to be a family of three,” Jackie said.
Determined to be a good father, Anthony battled the exhaustion from his treatments to help with the baby. This included staying up at night to feed and change JP.