Mataio is 16 years old and is a junior at Victor J. Andrew High School. In December 2014, Mataio was taking a life guarding class and noticed his back was hurting him after playing a game of water polo. He has been a skateboarder for most of his life and was used to aches and pains associated with the perils of skating. However this time was different. Mataio wasn’t able to skate, his sleep was being disrupted, and he wasn’t himself.
Five months earlier, his uncle Mic passed away from pancreatic cancer. This was the farthest thing from our mind when it came to Mataio’s back pain. Our first visit the doctor ordered x-rays and prescribed muscle relaxers with the suspicion that he pulled an intercostal muscle. By January, he was still in a lot of pain. We returned to the doctor and insisted that they check for kidney stones or something that might be causing the pain. As a result, the doctor ordered blood work, an ultrasound, and thankfully a cat scan. The cat scan revealed a lesion on his eighth rib, which had caused his rib to deteriorate. Mataio had been feeling the pain of his rib slowly being eaten away from the tumor.
In February 2015, we were told Mataio had Osteosarcoma and would need to begin chemotherapy immediately. His treatment consisted of 28 weeks of chemo and a major surgery to remove the tumor and his 8th, 9th, and 10th rib along with a couple of transverse processes off of his backbone. His tumor was slow to respond to the chemotherapy but the biopsy report stated that he had clean margins. During his treatment, Mataio had terrible side effects from Cisplatin, Doxorubicin, and Methatraxate. He suffered from debilitating Mucositis. This causes severe open sores that can develop in the mouth and throughout the G.I tract. Although there were many set backs and delays due to these side effects, Mataio completed his last round of chemo on December 3, 2015. He will continue to have monthly oncology appointments with blood work, cat scans and x-rays every three months for the next year and hopefully after that, these appointments will be further apart.