You may remember Vince Capaldi, the brave 21-year-old man who fought cancer and won. He shared his story as part of our cancer prevention series and told us that his mother was the person who was by his side every step of the way. As many of you who have had family members with cancer, caretakers are incredible people who deserve appreciation and have a unique perspective on the need for cancer prevention.
Below is an excerpt from an interview I had with Vince's mom, Ronda. Please feel free to leave a message for Ronda and Vince in the comments below. Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director
1. Tell us your name, where you are from/where you currently live, and a little bit about yourself.
My name is Ronda Capaldi and I live Simi Valley, Ca. I have been married to Jim for 25 yrs. and we have 4 children and 1 grandson. My husband Jim was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer when he was 36 yrs old and it was surgically removed and he has never had any relapses and has remained cancer free since Jan. 2000. Vince (our son) was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called "Ewing's Sarcoma" in September 2008, just 5 days before his 21st birthday. He has remained cancer free since Jan. 2010. We have been so blessed and realize that life is precious and we should never take it for granted.
2. What was it like when Vince was diagnosed?
I wasn't completely surprised by his diagnosis because he was misdiagnosed by 5 different doctors for 5 months prior. He had such intense pain in his arm, but every time we would go to a doctor they would say he had tendonitis. By the 5th month my "mom" instinct couldn't take watching my adult son in such horrible pain anymore and I contacted my back surgeon and asked if he could order an MRI or CT Scan on Vince's humerus and he did and he called me the same day and told me that he thought that Vince had a cancer called "Ewing's Sarcoma." Cancer was already a familiar word in our family. We were catapulted into a 16 month intense treatment plan of chemo, radiation and limb sparing surgery, which seemed to last forever. Time has it's way of standing still when traumatic events occur in our lives and a day seems like a year, because you want so badly want the nightmare to be over.
3. We know that cancer is complex, and it’s hard to say how or why any one person gets cancer. But new science shows us that we're exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in the products we use everyday. How important do you think it is that we regulate these toxic chemicals?
I would be so thrilled to know that toxic chemicals could be regulated and taken out of our environment, if at all possible. Both my husband and Vince’s cancer may have had environmental links. Finding the toxic chemicals that cause cancer could be like finding a needle in a haystack, but may be our water, radon in our dirt, the chemicals in our plastics, GMO's or pesticides on our foods. Whatever the case may be, it's a cause worth fighting for.
4. What were the challenges you faced being the mother of a young adult with cancer?
I think that there are many challenges that a mom faces throughout the journey, but one that comes to mind is having to remind myself that he is an adult and can make choices for himself and that it's not all up to me. Vince was really great throughout the treatment and trusted that I would give him good advice and he knew that I would help him to make the best choice that he could make, with the knowledge that I had from his dad's cancer. I had many years of research and educated myself so I felt able to encourage him to keep focused on beating this cancer. Ultimately, it's out of our control, as I know that God is the one who determines our days, but we have to fight no matter what we are faced with.
Another challenge that I faced was making sure that our other kids were not ignored. We tried our best to keep everyone informed about what was going on and encouraged them to come to the hospital and visit when they could so we could see them and spend some time with them. Sadly, when you have a child with cancer, each child has their own way of dealing with their sibling's cancer and sometimes we didn't really understand it, but we had to keep focused on Vince and his recovery. We had quite a few other challenges during those 16 months, and as so many other cancer families say, "life is a roller coaster," is an understatement. For us, the old adage, "when it rains, it pours" was so true!
5. How do you feel now that his cancer screens come back clean?
I am always so grateful and feel so blessed, as I have watched and met so many other parents lose their children to this horrible disease and we can't ever take life for granted because it can be taken away in a blink of an eye, and not just from cancer.
6. The Safe Chemicals Act is a bill that would increase the safety of chemicals. Both of your Senators Boxer and Feinstein are strong supporters and champions of this proposed legislation. If you could send them a message, what would you say?
I would say "thank you" for their continuing efforts on behalf of those of us who have been affected personally by a loved one with a life threatening illness, possibly due to toxic chemicals. Until regulations are put into place and acted upon, we will continue to see a rise in cancer and other life threatening illnesses and next time it could be someone that they love, if not already affected them.
I have changed my shopping habits and now shop with a company that doesnt manufacture their products with all the cancer causing agents out there. For me it was as simple, and a shopping decision I had to make. My father had his pancreas out 6 months ago due to pancreatic cancer. I wish I knew about all the chemicals we use in our products everyday before his diagnosis.Posted by: Laura Doughty | Jan 30, 2013 10:40:57 AM
My father is doing well now, thank goodness. Cancer sucks ! Why not help prevent/lessen its chances. Checkout my website, Id love to introduce where I shop to you .