Saturday, July 14, 2012

Little Miss No Name

Yesterday, we did an what's known as an "out and back."  Brian, (Pilot Extraordinaire!)  flew us from OXC (Oxford, CT) 10:30 am to Hamburg, NY (right next to Lake Erie in Buffalo, NY). We returned to Oxford late afternoon. It was a day made for flying in a small plane and it was quite the adventure!  We owe a very, special thank you to Dennis Izzo who made it possible to get to NY. We really appreciate everyone's help.

As I sit typing this blog, I  have the cutest (and smartest) lady French bull dog sitting on my lap. As you will see from the pics, Little Miss No Name and Joe clicked right away.  Joe spoke briefly with the breeder, asked some questions, and then made the decision to add her to our family!

Now, Joe is looking for a really awesome name...any suggestions?  Respond in "Comments". Thanks!

Today, we will visit Bone Appetite in Watertown to find our lady French bull dog some accessories!

Just a note:  Our puppy's breeder named this little one,"Lucia" and called the pup, Lucy.  I mentioned to the breeder that we had just visited Big Sur and the breathtaking mountains which run to the edge of the sea are called the Santa Lucia Mountains.  Miss Melissa, (the puppy breeder) told me that she is from California, hence the name. (Joe, as you know is looking for a name.) Introducing, 'Little Miss No Name"...

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's a Go!

Today:  OXC to Hamburg, NY 10:30 am to visit some puppies...

Stay tuned for further updates.

Love from all of us

P.S. Thanks for reading; check over the weekend for new blog entries.  We have been doing a lot of living.  Have not had much time to blog, but we will!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Joe's 1st Chemo & Dad's 1st Tattoo!

Check this pic out - you won't believe it!

On Tuesday, July 1st as Joe began his fight, I went to Beauty Mark Tattoo Parlor in Waterbury and got this piece of art on my right wrist. I always preached to my kids to not get a tattoo, and I decided that it felt right to get one this week!

So here it is!

Love to all,


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pfeiffer Beach, CA - Well Worth the Visit

There is no sign for this hidden, magical beach.  Water crashes through the rocks.  This is a beach like no other. Pfeiffer is located off a main road in Big, Sur, but  it's a little hard to find, which adds to its allure. You must drive 2 miles down a very narrow road to reach it. There are no signs.  In fact, one of the gallery owners told us the locals, (hippies) remove any signs as soon as the state puts them up. Costs $10 to park.  

If you have the chance to visit Big Sur, don't miss Pfeiffer! (Joe can tell you exactly how to find it.)  Make sure to click on "Read more", to see a video, very short, but sweet!

Good Morning America!

How are you?

I never thought I would be sitting here, writing this post on a beautiful,summer morning.

I never dreamed  my son would be going to his first chemo treatment this July in 2012.

But, I am.

And, we are.

So, let the games begin. As Joe says, "Bring it on."

Stay tuned, we will let you know how it goes.

And, look for the cool pics we will be posting tomorrow of sunny Cali and PR.

Hug someone today. And remember how much they mean to you.

Big hug to all of you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

August Cook-out at Dad’s

Hi. We are going to have a cook-out at my dad’s in August for Joe’s friends, so stay tuned for the date.

Everyone can crash at my mom's (in Middlebury) or dad's place (in Watertown). We have one air mattress and you can bring some more.

Try to bring one of your favorite things, whatever it is, for Joe :).

Also, be sure to bring your bathing suit and towel.


From the Huffington Post

Here is a recent article that my sister, Lis, shared with me. The author is a 28-year-old man.

The Things I Wish I Were Told When I Was Diagnosed With Cancer

Love is a Two-Way Street

Here is something really cool that happened over the weekend while Joe was hangin' in Puerto Rico with his friends.  (PR was location for bachelor party for Joe's friend, Josh Tofteland who gets married to Miss Erin in less than 3 weeks!)

Joe's Aunt Dee hit a Hole in One - as did one of her fellow club members! Congratulations to the ladies! (Joe was impressed when I texted him!)

Just in from Watertown Golf Club:


Hole #14 – 154 Yards

Congratulations to Sandra Howard and Dee McDonald!

Dee McDonald Hole #14 – 154 yards with a 7 wood
Witnessed by: Barb Diorio and Leslie Segal

Sandra Howard:  Hole #14 – 154 yards with a Driver
Witnessed by: Trish Perry and Laurie McKenna

Ian A. Marshall, PGA
Head Golf Professional, Watertown Golf Club

"Shit Luck"

Joe asked me to write a post about how we came to be where we are. 

So here is a medical post of what happened during June '12.

On Friday, June 1st, Joe called me early afternoon to say he was home from work in bed with severe abdominal pain.  Joe had awakened at 4 am with this abdominal pain, but went to work for 1/2 day. Joe had experienced this pain a few times during the previous week or so.   I urged Joe to hang up and call his doctor, which Joe did. Dr. C. saw Joe that Friday afternoon. Dr. C. ordered an ultrasound and blood work including an alkaline phosphatase test.

On Monday morning, June 4th, Dr. C. ordered an MRI.  Dr. C. called Joe Monday afternoon and said more tests needed to be run.  Joe and Dr. C. decided it would be best to admit Joe to St. Vincent's Hospital in Bridgeport, CT on Tuesday, June 5th to run these additional tests.

From Tuesday, June 5th through Thursday, June 7th, Joe had 2 different types of CT scans, a Graft Doppler (for examining a portal vein thrombosis), a liver biopsy, an endoscopy and colonoscopy, and more blood work.There was an indication of a blood clot in the portal vein in Joe's  liver. Joe was treated with a Heparin IV for the blood clot.

By Thursday, June 7th, there was no longer any blood clot in the portal vein.  However, we learned Joe had a malignant tumor in the left lobe of his liver.

Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma  is the official diagnosis. This means cancer that occurs in the bile duct within the liver.

On Tuesday, June 12th, Joe had a different type of MRI and on June 14th, a PET scan. The PET scan also revealed what is believed to be a tumor in Joe's left femur.

Early on the morning of  Friday, June 15th, the Tumor Board of St. Vincent's Hospital (and the SWIM Cancer Center of St. Vincent's Hospital) met to discuss Joe's case.  The Tumor Board includes physicians and specialists from varying disciplines including oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, gastroenterologists, and clinical trial specialists.

The Tumor Board recommended that Joe see an oncologist and begin chemotherapy (and possibly other therapies, such as radiation). The Tumor Board also recommended that Joe visit other medical institutions including the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to see what other treatment options might be available.

Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare disease and it is very seldom seen in young people. Joe asked the liver surgeon who helped diagnose Joe's illness how this came to be.  The liver surgeon told us they do not have a clear understanding of what causes this disease nor, why it happened to Joe.

In fact, the surgeon simply said, "It's just shit luck."

Wrapping up the month of June we had a few more appointments.  On Monday, June 18th, we visited St. Vincent's oncologist, Dr. D.  We learned about the options for chemotherapy, and we were urged to visit Sloan as well.

On Tuesday, June 26th, we had a bright and early appointment with Sloan's oncologist, and an afternoon appointment with a  Sloan liver surgeon. These physicians agreed with St. Vincent's Tumor Board that chemotherapy was the best approach.  No surgery or liver resection at this time.

By the close of June, we had a plan.  Joe will begin a schedule of chemotherapy on Tuesday, July 10 at Sloan.  Check out, "What's Happening This Week - July 9th" to learn more.

It's been one tough, challenging month.  Family and friends, and the outpouring of love have been nothing less than amazing.

And Joe, has been one courageous, young man.

We would not be standing without all your love.


It means the world to all of us.

Love to all,


What's Happening This Week - July 9th

On Tuesday, July 10th, Joe will begin chemotherapy, (on an outpatient basis) at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. Joe has an appointment with his oncologist at 12:15 and a 2:00 appointment for treatment. Joe will receive two different drugs - Cisplatin and Gemcitabine intravenously. Treatment is expected to be once per week for two weeks. Then, one week off.  We will get more details on Tuesday.

We are waiting to hear which day this week Joe will be scheduled to have his port implanted.  This port will  be used for subsequent chemotherapy treatments.  This procedure will be handled at St. Vincent's Hospital in Bridgeport, CT. Update - Joe will have his port installed at St. V's on Thurs. 7/12 at 8 am.  Followed by bone biopsy at 10 am.

In conjunction with the port implantation, a bone biopsy of the tumor in Joe's left femur will be done. Hopefully, this will provide more information for the doctors. The doctors tell us that it can be difficult to get a good sample and conclusive results.

Last Thursday, July 6th, Joe met with his CT oncologist, Dr. D. (from St. Vincent's and the SWIM Cancer Center) to adjust his pain meds and  receive some IV fluids to help keep Joe well-hydrated.  

At this time, Dr. D  recommended that Joe see the radiologist, Dr. I.  (from St. Vincent's who participated in the Tumor Board and Joe's original diagnosis.)  Dr. D. thought it would be good to  find out if radiation could help alleviate Joe's pain in his left leg.

Dr. I.  was able to squeeze us into his schedule on Thursday, July 6th.  Dr. I. believes that radiation could drastically reduce the leg pain and he has conferred with Joe's oncologist, Dr. Y. at Sloane.  Since both doctors are in agreement that radiation can benefit Joe, a bone biopsy of the tumor will be scheduled this week. Radiation will begin in the next week or so.

Radiation will take place in CT at the SWIM Cancer Center at St. Vincent's Hospital. (Radiation has to be done every day for 5 minutes per day for 10 days.) Both centers, (Sloane and SWIM) will work together to help us treat Joe. 

Thanks for checking in - we'll keep you posted!

Latest update - Joe will meet with Dr. I to have a painless procedure on Wed. July 11th.  This is a planning session whereby a mold is made.  This way every time Joe receives radiation, the radiologist can be sure to be targeting the same area.  (I am happy we have a plan to help relieve that bone pain.)  Joe will begin his 1st radiation treatment on Monday, July  16th.

Also scheduled are weekly IV hydration sessions w/ Dr. D, the CT oncologist.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Puppy update

Hi.  We are getting Joe a lady French bulldog.  My mom's skydiving friend, Brian, will fly us to Upstate New York later in the week to see if Joe falls in love with the puppy.

French bulldogs apparently are very cool and like to chill.  You will have to come visit her :)

xo Lis

Thank you for your love and kindness

Hi.  Thank you for your love and kindess for Joe.  Joe loves hearing from you :)

If you don't have our address to write, here is my mom and Joe's:

Joe Garassino
74 Horton Street Apt. #2
Stamford, CT 06902

Joe Garassino
c/o Doreen Darsh
14 Ridgewood Drive
Middlebury, CT 06902

Joe also likes reading your comments here and the texts that you send.

Thank you for your love and prayers for Joe. xo Lis