In March of 2020 the world changed in a blink of an eye as we all braced ourselves for the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. Schools were switched to remote learning; some businesses were closed while other companies began remote work. A change was amongst us all and we had to quickly adapt to this new way of living. Our family had another challenge thrown in the mix, as my husband Tony Peloso, then 49, had been diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma (ES) on 3/3/2020. This new diagnosis was a complete shock as this type of soft tissue bone cancer usually affected children and young adults. I remember staring at the doctor in somewhat of a daze saying, “This just does not make sense, he is not sick, and he has ZERO symptoms”. Tony had been battling some back pain for several months, and had been trying to get an MRI, but the insurance approval process was slow, and it was 3 months before we received the approval. Sure enough the MRI showed a herniated disc, but something totally unrelated was picked up on that MRI caught the neurosurgeon’s eye. He showed us a picture of what he called “an oddity” in his left pelvic area. After another MRI, and a CT guided biopsy we were referred to Levine’s Cancer Institute where it was clearly defined that Tony had ES. We felt thankful that his cancer was considered early staging, and that it was localized and had not spread anywhere else. He was still dealing with the existing back pain, but this diagnosis would soon take priority as we prepared for a new journey.
Cancer is scary in any shape or form but dealing with cancer during a pandemic creates a whole new level of stress not only to the patient, but to their families and caregivers. Tony took every bit of this in stride and didn’t miss a beat. The surgery to resect the tumor was complex due to its location in the pelvis. We were told that Tony would possibly need a cane for 6 – 12 months, but he only used the cane for SIX days. He went through chemo every 3 weeks for a total of 14 rounds, as well as 28 rounds of radiation all by himself. I was unable to go to any of these type appointments due to the Covid visitor restrictions. He never complained and continued to work as much as he could during this time. Tony had been diagnosed with ES the same week he received a promotion at his place of employment. Despite the hard chemo and radiation regimen Tony still worked as much as he could on his good weeks. He was focused, driven, and was excited to work at a place that he loved. He also helped our young daughter with remote learning and was always the point person in our household to take care of our FIVE dogs. He kept up with the landscaping of our yard and designed a beautiful firepit to be built in our back yard. Tony didn’t allow himself to stay down, and just continued to be a “Rock Star” as my cousin often described him.
Tony went into remission with ES in February of 2021, and his herniated disc ended up correcting itself. Unfortunately, 7 months later he was diagnosed with therapy related acute myeloid leukemia that claimed his life on 1/13/22, 4 months after the new diagnosis. In the blink of an eye. As hard as it has been to accept that this is where our journey ended, I have come to peace that we could have lost him much earlier to ES if he had not been so persistent to get that MRI done. Sarcomas are sneaky, and in many instances, just like Tony’s there was no pain associated with the sarcoma. This just happened to be stumbled upon through the MRI while he was getting his back checked out. It’s important to get things looked at immediately if something does not feel quite right, as you never know what could surface.
Tony’s courage amazed me during the ES journey as he continued to do the things he always loved. He was a designer by nature and built an elaborate Halloween stagecoach in the fall of 2020. We enjoyed seeing the stopped traffic on our street as people gawked in awe of his masterpiece. This was just a small part of Tony and who he was. As hard as this journey was for him, he was always thankful and kind to all the wonderful medical professionals that he encountered. He was an outstanding husband, dad, son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, and friend. He was a true warrior, a Titan, as I called him, and will never be forgotten. I am lucky to have his pride and joy, our daughter Ava by my side as we navigate through life without him. He will forever be loved, and always in our hearts.