When SaddleBrooke Ranch (SBR) residents Nancy and Chris Racioppo’s youngest son, Anthony, was 4 years old, the unthinkable happened. Fifteen years later, those feelings come back as she describes those first days: “We took Anthony to the doctor one morning with a slight fever and bloody nose, and he was very pale. We were sent for blood work and by the afternoon, my husband and I were called back into the office. They asked us not to bring Anthony. The doctor told us Anthony had leukemia. “We were in shock as the day unfolded. By 4 p.m. we were checked into Children’s Hospital,” Nancy recalls. “I will never forget the feeling of walking down the hospital hall and feeling sad for the families of these sick children. Then I realized we were one of those families!”
That was June 27, 2008. What came next was a three-year treatment plan. The first six months of treatment were often and a lot. He was in the hospital for just over two weeks, where he had a port surgically implanted. After that initial hospital visit, Anthony was home but visited the clinic several times each week. Nancy and Chris watched and cared for Anthony as he lost his hair, and battled fatigue and nausea.
For the next two and a half years, the calendar was filled with monthly chemotherapy. Every three months, Anthony would get what his siblings called “sleepy medicine“ so the doctors could check his spinal fluid and inject more chemotherapy.
As if Nancy was predicting the future, she had volunteered with the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society (LLS) two years prior to Anthony’s diagnosis. “Some of the very first people who reached out to me were my friends from LLS. After watching them help other patients, now they were all there for us. A mom and her son Cole, who was also receiving treatment, came to visit us. In fact, Cole was in a medical study that, due to its success, became part of Anthony’s treatment!”
Thanks to LLS and their work toward finding a cure, the type of cancer Anthony battled has a 98% cure rate.
Anthony is now 19 and just finished his first year of college.
“We felt so very fortunate throughout our cancer experience. We lived close to the hospital and clinic. We met families who were not as fortunate and needed help with transportation and hotels. And LLS was there to offer the help they needed.”
“There is nothing worse than having a sick child. It was worse than going through my own cancer treatment.” Nancy is also a cancer survivor!
The SBR Cancer Support Group participates in the Annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night here in Tucson, raising both funds and awareness. While LLS focuses on fighting blood cancers, this five-star Charity Navigator organization shares their research and development with the goal of eliminating all cancers.
Please consider joining Team SBR: Strong-Brave-Resilient for one or both of these events:
Friday, Oct. 20: SaddleBrooke Ranch Golf Cart Ride
Saturday, Oct. 21: Tucson Light the Night 1K walk at Rillito Park
Registration is free and fundraising is optional (but encouraged). Register at pages.lls.org/ltn/az/TucsonL23/SBR.
Questions? Contact Sandy Jessop at [email protected] or 520-686-4566.