December 13, 2014
Luke had scans on Monday. The initial readings were all positive. We were cautiously optimistic because these things can change. Luke's team at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh had the tumor board meeting late on Thursday and they all agree that based on the scans Luke is NED No Evidence of Disease!!! We heard from Dr. Peter Anderson from Levine's recently and he agreed NED!!! Luke may not continue chemo based on these scans!!! We are still getting opinions on that.
I cannot begin to thank you for the prayers, love and support. I'm certain that played a role in Luke's battle. We are so blessed by family, friends, community support and first rate care at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh and the advice of Dr. Pete Anderson of Levine's Children Hospital in Charlotte and Dr. Hezog at MD Anderson in Houston.
December 5, 2014
Exactly one year ago today Luke was told he had cancer. One year ago yesterday Luke had the surgery to remove the tumor and part of his spine. It is difficult to put to words the emotions that come creeping back. In the past year Luke had 70 days of chemo and 157 applications of radiation. He will start another 4-6 months of chemo in 2 weeks. He will have more scans on Monday.
Luke has a basketball game tonight at 8:00 at Canon McMillan. Personally I never really cared much if he plays basketball or baseball again. I just want him to be better. But I know how important it is to him. I know the countless hours of work he put in to get to this point. I know the times he was on the exercise bike in his hospital room while hooked up to the IV pole during chemo. All of the hours at the gym. I am truly overjoyed for Luke. Tonight will be a special night.
Article today by Lance Lysowski of the Observer Reporter.
December 1, 2014
November 10, 2014
Last day of radiation! Overall Luke handled the 5 weeks of radiation with no delays, no blood count issues and no discomfort. "Radiation is relaxing" said Luke when I asked him how things were going "I sleep for the hour occasionally interrupted by the technicians to turn me to get another area." He drove himself into Pittsburgh every morning for the radiation then he'd drive to school. The plan now is to take a month off from treatments. Then scans on December 8th followed by 4 to 6 months of chemo. Thank you to so many for your continued positive thoughts and prayers.
November 9, 2014
Last day of radiation is tomorrow. Luke's brother Pierce took Luke's Senior picture today. Senior picture? Luke's looking into the possibility of starting college next fall.
October 15, 2014
Feeling fine from the radiation and chemo. Fall ball hoops at Montour vs. Lincoln Park.
October 11, 2014
Canon McMillan Homecoming. Luke and Natalie.
October 7, 2014
Radiation starts today. It will be everyday (Monday through Friday) for the next 25 days. Luke will also have chemo (temodar) everyday that he has radiation. All 5 of the metastatic sites will be radiated, left humerus, left femur, 2 areas of the pelvis and the spine T11. He will have the radiation done at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.
October 1, 2014
Big thanks to Mike from Children's Hospital who gave Luke 2 tickets to the Pirates wild card playoff game tonight. The tickets were donated by the Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund who in turn got them from Adam. We had the pleasure of meeting Adam before the game at our tailgate. Thank you and God Bless! Our seats were in center field. Andrew McCutchen tossed his warm up ball right at me. Next thing I know I'm knocked over on top of the guy next to me. I look over at Luke and he's holding the ball. Still love our Bucs!
September 24, 2014
Unfortunately the stem cell harvest didn't work. Decided to start radiation probably late next week or Monday October 6th.
September 7, 2014
Stem cell harvest procedure begins today. Admitted to Children's for big dose of chemo.
September 5, 2014
Great trip to Charlotte to meet with Dr. Pete Anderson and his team. Also heard from MD Anderson in Houston. Bottom line 14 rounds of chemo was very effective. In the words of Dr. Pete now is the time to apply rule #2 of Zombieland - "Double Tap". The cancer is down, now finish it off. Starting Monday September 8th harvest stem cells at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh (a 3-4 week procedure). Starting about 2nd week in October high dose radiation to all metastatic sites present at December 26th scan (left arm, left leg, t11 spine and multiple pelvis)(a 2-5 week procedure). Starting about December - 4 to 6 months of chemo. Should be done around June 2015. Double tap! Sounds like a winner!
Great to see Luke's Aunt Kristin Magee and Aunt Karen Goode!
August 23, 2014
I deleted the post from 8/18 because we got some new information when we met with our team on Friday. It looks like the plan is to proceed with radiation to all of the metastatic sites; the left arm, left leg, multiple sites on the pelvis and two more sites that have been identified as metastatic, the right arm and the spine (t11). The primary spine site (L3) will not receive radiation because it has already been radiated for 31 days. The metastatic sites will receive radiation regardless if active cancer was spotted on scans. Some sites have active cancer, some do not, some are inconclusive. Our team at Children's will meet again on Thursday to finalize the plan. As before, we sent his records and scans to MD Anderson in Houston and we are going to see Dr. Pete Anderson at Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte the first week of September. During the radiation he will not receive chemo. Luke will possible go to Washington Hospital for the radiation so he can go to school. Luke is feeling very well and is excited to go back to school. You may even see him on the basketball court and baseball field this fall. Here's to a good plan!
August 15, 2014
August 11, 2014
VIP passes to the Steeler's Training Camp. Thank you John Bartholomew!
August 8-10, 2014
Camping in Cook Forest
July 30-Aug 5, 2014
Trip to Tennessee to celebrate the last chemo visiting my sister Karen, brother-in-law Patrick and niece Murphy.
July 29, 2014
Last day of chemo! Thank you to the wonderful staff at Children's (we missed you today Aimee).
Luke's friends were there to support him, as they have the entire time.
Next set of scans are scheduled for August 15th.
July 25, 2014
Counts recovered day 1 of the 5 day chemo. Start of the final round (round 14) of chemo.
July 21, 2014
Today was supposed to be the start of round 14 but Luke's platelets are still too low. He'll have his blood counts checked again on Thursday for a possible Friday start of Chemo.
July 17, 2014
Luke was admitted to Children's Hospital because he had a small cut on his leg that they were concerned about so he was put on IV antibiotics for a couple of days. He also received a transfusion because his platelets were low.
July 12, 2014
We all joined Lauren's Team LukeStrong for the Pittsburgh Sarcoma Walk.
July 7, 2014
Round 13 today. Because radiation is over back to the red devil (doxorubicin). Damn just when the hair started to grow back.
June 27, 2014
Luke's return to the court for the first time since November 30, 2013.
June 21, 2014
Cruisin' for Luke Car Show planned and organized by Hayden Kehm. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the support for Luke. Hayden raised over $1,500 for Luke. Thanks Hayden!
June 20, 2014
At Children's for round 12 chemo (5 day). The end is in sight! Two more rounds after this. By Luke's calculation July 25 will be the last day assuming no delays.
June 10th, 2014
Is this crazy, eerie, creepy whatever you want to call it. Luke wrote on an assignment back in September that a "near death experience" would shape the person that he would become. They were supposed to write a letter predicting their future. The teacher gave the paper to Savannah to give to Luke. Page 1. Page 2.
Legion baseball game vs. Bethel Park
June 7, 2014
Doubleheader in Morgantown. Luke was glad to be back on the mound.
June 6, 2014
In for Round 11 chemo. It's supposed to be a 2-day but we can probably get out before midnight. Drake Bell from the TV show Drake & Josh stopped by and performed songs in the Infusion Room at Children's today. Pretty cool! Here's one of the songs.
June 4-5, 2014
To celebrate Luke finishing radiation and me (Kurt) finishing school we went camping at Uniontown KOA River's Edge Campground.
June 3, 2014
Today is day 31 and the final day of radiation!
June 2, 2014
Next to the last day of radiation.
Legion baseball game at Bethel Park. Luke back on the field for the first time this year!
June 1, 2014
Canon McMillan Baseball Banquet. Huge thanks to our baseball family for all of the support this year.
May 31, 2014
Big family get together at the Meier's.
May 30, 2014
Red blood counts, white blood counts and platelets very low so Luke needed a transfusion with 2 units of blood and platelets. Aunt Laura rode Luke in and took this picture.
May 16, 2014
May 13, 2014
Western Area Career & Technical Center is LukeStrong! Big thanks to the WACTC Class of 2014 who raised $350 for Luke.
Big thanks to Crown Castle who gave Luke 4 tickets to game 7 of the Penguin game tonight!
May 12, 2014
4th week of radiation (day 16) starts today.
May 5, 2014
3rd week of radiation (day 11) and round 9 of chemo today. Uncle Patrick Goode in town to help out.
May 2, 2014
LukeStrong and Matt Taylor benefit dinner at St. Mary's Church
May 1, 2014
Tragic day where Jan's sister Joyce Quinn passed away.
LukeStrong Spaghetti dinner at Canon McMillan High School.
April 28, 2014
2nd week of radiation (day 6).
April 27, 2014
Annual Susan G. Komen Catch the Cure softball tournament at W&J.
April 24, 2014
Met with the surgeon today. Luke's back is healing well from the December surgery. He was cleared to resume physical activity (not that he ever stopped)!
April 21, 2014
Day 1 of radiation and round 8 of chemo today.
April 20, 2014
Happy Easter! Cruising with the cousins and sister.
April 18, 2014
The plan is to have 31 radiation treatments to just the spine (L3) starting Monday. The chemo treatments will also continue on Monday. Additional chemo and radiation to be determined.
April 12, 2014
Luke bought a new (old) Jeep Wrangler today. Luke has been saving since he was 12 and big thanks to Martin Auto Sales who sold it to Luke at the auction price and for Aunt Karen and Ella for helping the cause.
April 10, 2014
MD Anderson did not recommend surgery. MD Anderson and Children's will discuss next week how to proceed with radiation and chemo. Here's to a good plan!
April 5, 2014
CM Baseball game at Consol Field in Washington, PA.
April 3, 2014
PET scans and MRI confirmed the PET scan from December 26th metastatic Ewing's to the arm, leg and multiple areas on the pelvis. These areas are responding very well to the chemo. Heading to MD Anderson in Houston, TX on Wed. and Thursday to get second opinion on how to proceed.
April 1, 2014
Happy Birthday Luke! Dinner at the Olive Garden.
March 30, 2014
Big week this week. Scans and more scans on Wed. and Thurs. Keep the prayers and good thoughts coming!
March 29, 2014
Matt Tadero invited Luke and me to the Stage AE event called For Men Only - Faith Sports Pittsburgh. Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley hosted the event that included Steelers Kelvin Beachum, Will Johnson and Vince Williams along with Hall of Famer Mel Blount and others. They talked about how their faith helped them overcome obstacles and shape their lives. When we got there Matt brought us in the VIP room where Tunch and some other Steelers met Luke and we all gathered arm in arm and Tunch led a prayer for Luke. Ist picture is Tunch, 2nd one is Wolf and the 3rd is Will Johnson.
March 24, 2014
the day after chemo Luke was admitted to Children's with a upset stomach and high fever. Fever stabalized and they sent him home on Tuesday.
March 21, 2014
Luke loves having the chemo as an outpatient. Normally for the 5 day treatment Luke is admitted for 6 days at Children's. Now we drive him in each day for about 3-4 hours while he gets his chemo treatment. He then can go home (or anywhere else) with a backpack that has his IV bag, battery pack and pump. I had to clear out some beer in the fridge to make room for the IV bags.
As a result of the outpatient treatment Luke was able to go to St. Mary's Fish Fry.
Crown Castle Mid-West Group is #LukeStrong
March 18, 2014
Luke is starting round 6 pre-hydration today and chemo Wed-Sun. This time he is trying it as an outpatient.
March 14, 2014
Cecil Elementary Spirit Week. Cecil Elementary principal Tula Dziak gets painted and glittered! They selected LukeStrong as the recipient of this years effort. Great article by the Observer-Reporter's Lance Lysowski.
WPXI's Cara Sapida also did a news story on the event. It aired Friday, March 14 at 6:00.
March 13, 2014
Visit and pray with Matt Tadero.
March 8, 2014
Baseball Booster LukeStrong fundraiser at the New Hofbrau in Canonsburg. Unbelievable evening! Big thanks to Craig Piechnick and the Canon McMillan Baseball Boosters for this great event. If anyone has any pictures send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 7, 2014
Big thanks to Travelers Insurance office in Knoxville, TN where Aunt Karen Goode works and other offices across the country! Travelers is #LukeStrong!
Luke received a letter and book from Mario Lemieux today!
March 5, 2014
Luke is at Children's today a and tomorrow for his 2 day treatment.
March 4, 2014
Canon McMillan Basketball banquet was tonight.
March 3, 2014
February 28, 2014
Jan, My husband went to work out at the Rec after work today and look who he ran into. Can't tell me that God isn't amazing - he has 100 t-shirts and he wore this one today. My husband has been having a tough week and an especially difficult day but seeing Luke brought some things into perspective and brightened his day. Please thank him for taking the time to stop and say hello. A simple gesture made a big difference. Praying that Luke is feeling and doing as good as he looks!!! Also - if there is a request for dinner on Wednesday, please let me know. Whatever you all would like....
Have a great weekend.
February 25, 2014
National Honor Society Induction Ceremony.
February 22, 2014
Big thanks to Brandon Palonis and the Canon Mac Band students and parents for the LukeStrong concert.
February 21, 2014
Luke is handling the chemo pretty well. He is eating full meals and working out during the treatments.
February 17, 2014
ANC is good (barely). Luke will be admitted to Children's on Wednesday the 19th until Monday the 24th.
February 16, 2014
Breakfast at the Gab and Eat Restaurant in Carnegie with Kurt, Luke, Bob, Glen, Tony and Craig.
February 9, 2014
Luke is scheduled for round 4 on Wed. Feb. 19th. This is the 5 day treatment. Just a reminder. Luke's white blood counts get very low between rounds. If you're sick please don't visit Luke.
February 7, 2014
Less than 24 hours from his last treatment Luke was at the gym shooting baskets. Big basketball game at Peters Township. The winning team makes the playoffs. Big thanks to Ken Thomas and the Peters Township Basketball Boosters who sold PT LukeStrong t-shirts during the week and at the game. Also they donated the 50/50 to Luke. The total amount raised by the PT Boosters was $1,000. The Peters Township Youth Basketball organization donated $500 as well. PT won the game but CM can be proud of their season. Big thanks to PT!
February 6, 2014
Luke is handling the chemo much better than round 1 even though it is the exact same treatment. He ate a full breakfast this morning. When he was discharged about 11:30 PM right after receiving his final dose the the "red devil" (Doxorubicin) Luke wanted to eat. Subway was closed so we got a foot long Italian hoagie at South Fayette Shop N Save at midnight. Luke texted Aimee, the lead contact of his Oncology team and said "I thought you were going to make this hard on me. Ha Ha."
February 5, 2014
Blood ANC count is good. Round 3 to start today. This is the 2 day treatment. The same one Luke did in round 1.
Luke and the Oncology staff at Children's wish team USA hockey good luck in the Olympics.
February 2, 2014
Super Bowl Sunday
January 28, 2014
January 27, 2014
Luke had his day 5 chemo treatment at 2:00 AM. He was discharged at 1:00 PM.
Luke Strong night at Canon-McMillan for the basketball game against Upper St. Clair. What an emotional night. Big thanks to the USC Basketball Boosters who presented Luke with a check for $500. USC head coach Dan Holzer who quietly made a private contribution. The CM cheerleaders made up a "Luke Strong" cheer. Also big thanks to Coach Bell, Guy Montecalvo, David Helinski, Lisa Hammers, Denise Bohn and the rest of the CM Basketball Boosters who made the Luke Strong Night possible. Also thanks to all of the referees who donated their paychecks to the cause. The proceeds from the concession stand, 50/50 (thank you Sherri Klutch) , t-shirts, wrist bands and sign donations went to Luke.
Big thanks to Luke's brother Pierce Marratto for the following pictures.
Big thanks to Michelle Fulton for the following pictures.
January 26, 2014
Luke said each day is a little more difficult. He is still eating great. He is even riding the exercise bike. He's biked about a total of 13 miles this week while on IV. Amazing.
Zach Dandurand is #LukeStrong
January 25, 2014
High stakes game of Jenga at Children's.
January 23, 2014
This 5 day chemo treatment seems to be a little easier on Luke than the 2 day. He is eating full meals.
January 22, 2014
Luke was admitted today for round 2 (of 14). This is the 5 day inpatient treatment.
January 21, 2014
Blood count is good. Round 2 starts tomorrow. Luke will be in Children's from Wednesday through Monday.
Luke, Clay Martin, Jan and I went to the Pitt Clemson basketball game (Thanks Brian Fixx). Dominating Pitt win.
January 15, 2013
Now that he is able to resume light workouts, Luke joined Boyce Mayview Recreation Center.
January 13, 2013
No chemo today. Low absolute neutrophil count (ANC). Chemo postponed for 1 week.
Got the OK from the surgery team for Luke to be able have light workouts. So Luke went straight from hospital to the gym and shot basketball for 2 hours.
January 12, 2013
Very nice day with a great organization. Lending Hearts sponsored a get together at the Duquesne Dukes basketball game. Lending Hearts is an organization that supports kids with cancer and their families. Thank you Vasso!.
January 11, 2013
Luke had his hair buzzed today by his sister Carla. "No hair don't care." Says Luke.
January 9, 2014
Canon McMillan Junior Class bought Luke an iPad.
January 4, 2014
Article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review by Jason Mackey.
January 3, 2014
Luke went to the Canon McMillan away game at Trinity with the McCann's. Ate a cheeseburger after the game. He must be feeling better.
January 2, 2014
Luke is still feeling lousy from the chemo. All he ate was Julie McCann's famous wedding soup. Trying to stay active walking on the treadmill.
December 31, 2013
Day 2 of the 1st chemo round. At least Luke was discharged and we were able to spend the New Year at home. Savannah came over and was with Luke for the New Year.
December 30, 2013
Today is the first day of Luke's chemotherapy treatments.
December 26, 2013
PET Scan at Children's Hospital
December 25, 2013
December 23, 2013
Blanock family Christmas celebration at Craig and Laura Blanock's house.
December 22, 2013
Article by Lance Lysowski of the Observer-Reporter.
Video by Katie Roupe of the Observer-Reporter
December 21, 2013
Giorgiana Zeremenko took Luke and Jake Traynor to the Pitt basketball game against Cal Poly. Luke met Jamie Dixon and James Robinson.
December 20, 2013
This was a long day at Children's. We had to be there at 6:30 AM for a PET Scan. The PET Scan machine was broken so Luke did not get this today. We met with the surgery team. Luke back was healing good. We then met with the Oncology team. They spent a long time going over all of the chemotherapy drugs and all of the possible side effects one by one by one along with all of the drugs that will counteract the side effects. Luke was also told that he may not be able to play sports again. Tough day.
December 19, 2013
Luke's teacher Matt Todaro's history class and other students and teachers surprised Luke by showing up in his driveway singing Christmas carols. Thank you! It was very powerful.
December 13, 2013
Luke went to the away basketball game at Bethel Park. Very touching. Bethel student section wore yellow in support of Luke. They had sign, banners and announcements in support of Luke. WPXI ran a story on the game.
December 12, 2013
Picture day for the basketball team. Luke was happy to hang out with the team. Coach Rick Bell has been incredible during this entire ordeal.
December 11, 2013
More good news! The Bone Marrow biopsy showed no cancer! Dr. Friehling also confirmed that Luke has Ewing's Sarcoma.
December 10, 2013
Poker night with friends.
December 9, 2013
Luke's brother Pierce Marratto designed the Luke Strong t-shirt based off of a photo of Luke.
December 8, 2013
Article by Lance Lysowski of the Observer-Reporter
December 7, 2013
We finally started getting some good news. The Bone Scan did not show any evidence of metastatic cancer. The CT Scan did not show any evidence of metastatic cancer, although it showed an area of concern on T11 spine and his thyroid that the Oncologists didn't think were cancerous. We were also told that Luke might be discharged today. Upon hearing this Luke asked Jan and I if he could go to the Canon McMillan Basketball game. Absolutely not was our response. During the next few hours Luke asked his Oncologist, Dr. Erika Friehling if he could go to the game. "No problem" was her response. Luke asked the surgery doctors, the nurses and the physical therapist if he could go to the game and they all gave him the green light so Jan and I couldn't say no.
After Luke was released from the hospital we briefly stopped at home then took Luke to Canon McMillan for the basketball game against Wash High. Luke went down to the locker room.
WPXI video about the game Saturday night.
December 6, 2013
Friday was a big day for Luke. We needed to find out if the cancer was localized or metastatic. Luke had a CT Scan, Bone Scan and Bone Marrow Biopsy. He also had a port installed in his chest for the delivery of the chemotherapy medications. Friday night Luke was able to listen to the Canon McMillan varsity basketball game against Burgettstown on Savannah's phone. After the game Coach Bell called Luke and the team talked to Luke one by one. That certainly lifted Luke's spirits.
Another thing that lifted Luke's spirits was the _LukeStrong Twitter Account that Savannah and Luke's cousin Abby Blanock created from the #LukeStrong that Jake Traynor came up with.
December 5, 2013
Luke was recovering well from the surgery. Luke's girlfriend, Savannah and her mom Julie brought Luke pizza from Fiori's Pizza. Later Dr. Greene confirmed our worst fears, she told Luke that he had cancer. She strongly suspected Ewing's Sarcoma a rare (200 cases in the US last year) pediatric bone cancer. Jan, Luke and I cried for a while. A short time later Savannah came into the room. Luke told her that he had cancer. She said without hesitation no problem you will beat this. Jan said to me that Savannah didn't understand what Luke said so I said to Savannah that Luke has cancer and she again said I know no problem, he will be fine. That kind of set the tone. Luke then uncharacteristically said "I'm going to make cancer my bitch".
December 4, 2013
The surgery went well. Dr. Greene removed the mass along with some of Luke's spine and surrounding muscle. The nurses said Luke was one of the few patients who go out of surgery in better shape than before surgery. Luke was very happy to have "that out" of his back.
December 3, 2013
ER at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. Luke went up for an MRI about 1:00 AM. The MRI was supposed to take about 45 minutes. Because Luke's leg muscles kept uncontrollable clenching the MRI lasted an agonizing 3 1/2 hours. Each episode with Luke's legs were getting progressively worse with more pain. Around 5:00 AM they gave us the news that none of us expected, Luke had a mass on his spine. Luke was given room 609 and we were to meet with Dr. Greene, the surgeon later that morning.
Dr. Greene spent a great deal of time going over the MRI with Jan and I. She then said what no parent should hear. She said she thought the mass was cancerous but would not know for sure before further testing. Dr. Greene said the mass needed to come out immediately because it was pressing on the nerves in his spine (L3) causing the numbness and pain in Luke's legs. Surgery was scheduled for Wednesday December 4th in the morning.
That night was the most difficult for Luke because the episodes of his legs locking up on him with intense pain increased with frequency and intensity. Nothing could stop the pain. Morphine did nothing to ease the pain. A water bath helped a bit. Also Luke sitting upright seemed to help. Luke could not wait for the surgery the next day.
December 2, 2013
On Monday December 2, 2013 at 3:00 AM my 16 year old son Luke woke up scared with numbness in his legs unable to walk. He crawled into the next room and woke up his sister Katie and told her to get his mom and myself. We were discussing taking Luke to the emergency room when the feeling returned to Luke's legs and he felt fine. Later on that day Luke went to basketball practice and had his back treated with ice. That evening at 9:00 Luke again lost feeling in his legs so we took him to the Canonsburg Hospital Emergency Room. We all felt he had a pinched nerve in his back from basketball. We were getting ready to be discharged with orders to follow up later in the week with an orthopedic specialist when he had another episode where his legs went numb, he was unable to walk and this time the muscles in his legs tightened up causing Luke a lot of pain. I went out and told the doctor it was happening again. Upon seeing the episode, Dr. Joo decided that Luke needed and MRI immediately. He ordered an ambulance to to take Luke to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. In the ambulance Luke kept asking me for updates to the Saint - Seahawk game for his Fantasy Football team.