Paolo and his family love to travel. Together, they hike, cycle and enjoy spending time outdoors. He’s a healthy, active husband and father of five. So, when they were together on sabbatical in Italy, his mind was focused on all things positive – until he discovered a lump in his chest.
At first, he thought, “What’s there to worry about?” He called his doctor and – agreeing to follow up when he returned home – he enjoyed the final days of his trip. After undergoing diagnostic testing, he received a call from his doctor on June 4th – his 55th birthday. Paolo had breast cancer.
Male breast cancer is rare, affecting only 1 in 833 men, according to the National Cancer Society. And although his father had died of cancer in 1999, Paolo had no reason to think he was at risk. “I’m a positive guy,” he says. “But this was a big challenge. It raised a lot of questions, uncertainties – even fear.” Still, he wasn’t about to let that fear get the best of him. “The immediate thing now was getting the best care I could possibly find.”
The care I received was comprehensive – no aspect was left unattended. They treated me with complete respect for my human dignity in every way. What more could I ask for? –Paolo
Local, world-class care
As an academic, it was second nature for Paolo to start doing his own research and learn as much as he could about his condition. That research, along with recommendations from his friends and colleagues at University of Notre Dame, led him to Beacon’s own Dr. Tom Reid and an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic with specific expertise in male breast cancer. Paolo chose to have all of his care coordinated by Dr. Reid because of his world-class reputation – and because of the unique partnership Beacon has with the Mayo Clinic Care Network.
They were humble and personable. They focused on what was essential.” –Paolo
“The Beacon-Mayo relationship gave us a lot of certainty about the path we were following,” Paolo said. “When difficult decisions had to be made, it was helpful to have someone I trusted right here at home.”
Following the surgery, Paolo’s diagnosis was Stage I with no metastasis – but the cancer was . Starting in July 2018, he would need to undergo twelve months of chemotherapy. “I knew chemo wouldn’t be easy, but Beacon was with me every step of the way,” he said. “Whatever question I had; they were immediately responsive. They were humble and personable. They focused on what was essential.”
A human connection
Two months into chemo, Paolo began having severe visual and neurological complications. Once again, Dr. Reid coordinated his care with Mayo Clinic and discontinued one of the two medications he was receiving. Fortunately, his vision soon returned to normal.
During that difficult time, Paolo was especially grateful for the team at Beacon. “Scientifically, medically, personally… they were always there for me for me and my family. That human connection was evident. There were times when I was frequently exchanging calls and texts at any hour of the day and night; I didn’t need an appointment. When I was having complications in the middle of the night, or on the way to the ER, I was in constant communication with them.”
Scientifically, medically, personally… they were always there for me for me and my family. That human connection was evident.
A new focus
Paolo’s chemo infusions ended in July 2019. Since then, he’s become more focused on what matters most. “When you go through something like this, it makes you sit up and pay more attention to all aspects of your well-being – from your relationships to what you want from work and more. The time that I have is too precious to be spending on things that aren’t important to me.”
Today, he is cancer-free and healthy again. To celebrate, he took his family on vacation, hiking in the Smoky Mountains. He remains grateful to the team at Beacon.
Your Cancer Care Team
Beacon Cancer Care is home to a team of highly skilled oncologists specializing in cancer and blood disorders. Taking a comprehensive approach to cancer treatment, our physician team, with their nurse practitioners or physician assistants, will work side-by-side with a dedicated staff of nurses, therapists, navigators, social workers, clinical pharmacists, dietitians and genetics counselors to deliver the highest quality of care, using cutting-edge technology and procedures to diagnose and treat cancer based on individual needs.
Beacon Health Foundation’s focus is a direct outgrowth of Beacon Health System’s deep commitment to enhancing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of the communities we serve. Our tax exempt identification number is 35-1536129.
*The quotations provided in this article are part of a testimonial from the family of Cheryl Laskowski; a patient at Beacon Memorial Hospital.