Lucca’s freshman year had begun like most in his school. He was building rapport with friends and absorbing the culture of his new school, Malvern Prep. Football camp and freshman orientation had just finished, and it was time to start the new school year. His entire family was excited to be part of the new school community and watch as Lucca competed to play for his high school teams.
Just two weeks into the school year and his freshman football season, Lucca began to complain of shoulder pain, and after just three games, he was asking not to play. Lucca is passionate about football, and his complaint was unusual as he had not had any trauma to his shoulder and he never asks to leave the field. His parents thought it was very odd so they took him to get checked out by the orthopedic doctor. The initial visit to the orthopedic revealed no tissue injury. They ran through possible diagnoses to his pain like, “How he sleeps,” or “maybe it is that he is carrying a heavy load of books in his backpack,” ultimately resulting in “Come back if in one week if it does not feel better.” For the next week, Lucca tried to remedy the pain, but there was no relief in sight. He had also developed a nagging cough. They decided to return to the orthopedic doctor for imaging.
In the early morning of October 4, 2019, the doctor took an MRI of his shoulder and back area and due to his persistent cough they decided he should also be looked at by the pediatrician.
The pediatrician’s examination found his lungs were congested and prescribed him a Z-pack. While waiting in the pharmacy line to pick-up Lucca’s prescription, his mom received a “life-changing” call from the radiologist who examined the MRI images. “You need to take Lucca to CHOP,” he said, “Lucca has a large tumor on his lungs, heart, and pulmonary artery, I think it is non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
This news was earth shattering to their family and by mid-afternoon, Lucca, was being examined at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The results of his initial screenings showed a sixteen centimeter tumor. Lucca's oncology team of doctors were amazed that he was still breathing normally and able to play BOTH lacrosse and football at a high level. Lucca’s ability to function at such a high level in-spite of cancer’s grip on his body was our second miracle.
His treatments began immediately. He spent the next two-and-half weeks in the hospital receiving his first round of chemotherapy. During their family’s most challenging moments, the first three days, they met the members of the team who would collaborate to eradicate his body of cancer. Lucca had an incredible medical team. Serendipity, coincidence, or miracle, call it what you want, several members of the team were acquaintances or family friends. Our joyful tears flowed along with the release of tremendous emotional pressure when we learned that these individuals would be joining our on-the-ground fight against cancer.
Following his preliminary round of treatment, Lucca’s tumor shrank by over 90%. His body's response to the initial treatment would set the stage for a very optimistic road ahead. Lucca's oncology team felt confident that his cancer was not only curable, but that his body would require between four or eight months of treatment. Lucca responded to his chemo regimen better than anyone on the team could have expected. In early January of 2020, Lucca completed his fourth and final round of chemotherapy; two treatments ahead of schedule!
In early February 2020, Lucca padded up to play box lacrosse with his field tournament team. Observers aware of his recent past were amazed, as were his, friends, doctors and family.
They feel very fortunate to have had so many small miracles in a time that seemed bleak and unknown. They hope Lucca continues to keep having miracles in his cancer journey and beyond.