Kim & Matt Cariglio's Story
Kim & Matt Cariglio were married on October 10, 1998. They lived in the Town of North Providence, RI with their children Ella, age 11, and Nicholas, age 8. Matt also had a 20 year old son, Matthew, Jr.
Their challenges with cancer began on Nicholas' 3rd birthday in May of 2006 when Matt was first diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma. This is cancer of the bone marrow that attacks your largest bones, as well as your organs. The cancer cells weaken and break your bones as they gather and multiply. Matt first experienced symptoms of severe back pain in 2006 when a lesion was discovered. Matt underwent radiation to eradicate the lesion on his spine and subsequently began chemotherapy.
From 2006 to 2009 Matt had additional radiation for new lesions that had formed. During this period, he received several other forms of chemotherapy in an attempt to keep the cancer at bay since there is currently no cure for Multiple Myeloma.
In October of 2009, Matt received a stem cell transplant which involved high doses of chemotherapy followed by the collection of his own stem cells, which were then given back to him after recovery from the chemotherapy. This was the first time since first being diagnosed that Kim and Matt informed Ella and Nicholas. During the previous treatments, Matt would have radiation in the morning and then proceed to work. However, the transplant involved a 17 day hospital stay and several months' recovery time.
Unfortunately, cancer was becoming common place in their lives as Kim's best friend and the godmother of Ella was diagnosed with breast cancer at this same time.
Following the transplant in late 2009, Matt enjoyed the longest stretch of time without treatment that he had experienced since being diagnosed. It should have been the happiest of times for Kim and Matt, but instead it was one of lowest times. Matt had become completely dependent on the pain medication doctors prescribed to him. While he only used what was prescribed, he had taken it every single day over 4 straight years to help alleviate the severe pain. Somehow, he continued to work in a high stress job, coached sports for his children, and did everything else that comes with being a father and husband. Matt was extremely depressed during this time. He felt terrible both physically and mentally but kept it to himself. At the time, you would have never known it. Not even his boss, his wife, his mother or his best friends knew.
Finally, in September of 2010, Matt told Kim how he felt and he admitted himself to an outpatient drug abuse program. When he entered the program, Matt had a fractured rib. Between pain and withdrawals, Matt will tell you that it was the worst 3 months of his life. Thankfully, with the love and support of his family and friends, Matt got through it and did not use any prescription pain medication thereafter.
After completing the program, Matt searched for a career change with less stress and more time to enjoy his family but, as fate would have it, in December of 2010, immediately after getting through the drug treatment program, the cancer came back and he had a new lesion on his hip that would require more radiation. This prompted him to enter a 4 month clinical trial at Dana Farber Cancer Institute where he was the only person in the trial. He was forced to apply for social security disability insurance and was approved.
In September of 2011, yet another new lesion was found on his skull and Matt began to have double vision. This again required several treatments of radiation and chemotherapy.
Three months later, in January of 2012, what can only be described as going from sublime to ridiculous, Kim found a lump on her breast which turned out to be stage 2 ductal carcinoma breast cancer. She began her chemotherapy treatment immediately while Matt started a new regimen as well. Matt stayed on that treatment until April of 2012, however it did not work. He had new lesions on his spine, hip, pelvis, and inside his back muscles. Kim's chemotherapy finished in late June, 2012, at which point she underwent breast surgery followed by radiation.
In late 2012, Matt underwent monthly inpatient hospital treatments in Boston where he received continuous chemotherapy for 4 days at a time. The hope was to get things under control so he could try other options, such as donor transplant. Throughout this time, Kim and Matt tried to schedule Kim's surgery and Matt's treatment so they were not both completely out of commission at the same time, especially since Kim is a self employed hairdresser and the only income they had was Matt's SSDI. These are decisions you only hope you never have to make. Amongst all of this, the most difficult thing for Kim and Matt was having to explain to their children.
Unfortunately, Matt's treatments were not successful and he passed away on November 9, 2012.
I can tell you first hand that Matt and Kim would give the shirt - that they don't have - off their backs to help any of their friends or family. We can only hope we never have to face the challenges that the Cariglios are facing.