Louis Catania




Lou began getting sick and loosing weight in October of 1993. After seeing several doctors, and not getting any answers, we finally found a doctor that thought Lou might have amyloidosis. Our Oncologists followed textbook protocol and advised us that there was nothing they could do. Treatment included prednisone and melphalan. Lou was given a matter of months to live.

My mother asked her church in Washington State to pray for us, and her friend, a nurse, approached her after service and informed her that she had just lost a friend to Amyloid. The nurse advised mother to have us contact a fellow named Jim Lang in Texas. She knew that Jim had begun a support group, and had information that might be beneficial to us. We called Jim, and were advised to contact Martha Skinner at BUMC, which we did. Dr. Skinner however was not sure Lou had Amyloid as we had yet to get a positive biopsy. I transformed from a shy soft-spoken farm girl to a desperate raging New Yorker, and insisted that Dr. Skinner look at the lab reports - insisting that she had the equipment to make the diagnosis. She agreed.

We traveled to BU in June of 1994. Lou who was a healthy 6 ft, 175 pound, physically fit fellow had dwindled to 140 pounds. He had not eaten for months and survived on a feeding tube. We were desperate at this point. But as fate should have it, we met 8 doctors and a squad a nurses, followed by several teams of students, and the hospital support staff including a social worker and a priest - all of which wanted desperately to perform a Stem Cell Rescue (as they then called it). Lou's tests also showed Multiple Myeloma, and STC had been approved and successful for MM patients, so we moved forward through the insurance maze and miraculously got approval for the procedure.

The big day was in the beginning July of 1994. The STC went well, and we waited patiently in a reverse pressure isolation room, which required everyone to scrub and dress before entering. The weeks past as trails of students and doctors and nurses came and went. Questions produced more questions, and answers came as we all watched and wondered what would happen. Slowly improvements began to show, and the level of excitement shy rocketed by the day. Soon Lou was sitting up, then walking, and then gained release from the isolation room. Everything went well - to everyone’s surprise. He was soon released from the hospital, and we traveled home from Boston to New Jersey. The STC was considered a stepping-stone to a bone marrow transplant.

Unfortunately, the following day Lou ended up in the hospital in NJ where the doctors treated him as if he was going to die. They put him back on the painkiller that we had weaned him off of, and put him back on anti depressants. They refused physical therapy. So, I called Dr. Comenzo, and asked him to have a chat with the doctors in NJ. He did, and their philosophy of treatment changed dramatically. Although Lou got a bit worse before he got better, (he dropped to 123 pounds) he slowly showed signs of improvement, and was eventually released. We met J. Helwig as we left the hospital.

Lou's recovery was slow and seemed to go in a mirror image of how it came. The first things that showed were the last to go. He had a sudden pain followed by an emergency Gall Bladder removal in January of 1995. From then on, and to everyone’s amazement, he continually improved from that day on. His only remaining sign of being ill is neuropathy in his toes.

We are scheduled for his 12-year check-up on May 8th 2006 - one day before our 25th wedding anniversary, and 2 days before our youngest's 17th birthday. Miracles do happen.

Linda and Lou Catania :)