The Story of Marco and his Glioblastoma

I open the mail and find this letter from Maria Rosaria which tells the story of her son Marco and his Glioblastoma. I understand Maria Rosaria’s state of mind because, unfortunately, there is something we have in common. Below you can find the full text of Maria’s email.

“Marco with beautiful eyes and a sweet smile was born on a rainy day 34 years ago at Mangiagalli in Milan. Son strongly wanted despite the difficulties of a difficult pregnancy. He lived a happy and serene life full of commitment and study (he was a pharmacist with a degree in CTF, he had discovered a new molecule for the treatment of malaria in the laboratory during his thesis).

One morning in October, nearly four years ago he suddenly felt ill and stopped reading. His father insisted and he did an MRI and we discovered that he had a brain mass that occupied almost the entire left cerebral hemisphere. He was admitted to the Besta in Milan and was judged inoperable with an inexorable diagnosis, mutated IDH grade IV glioblastoma. He began, almost without hope, the STUPP protocol (radiotherapy and chemotherapy) in difficult physical conditions also due to the concomitant pandemic.

We all thought he wouldn’t make it … and instead, in July 2020, an unexpected turning point. Despite to all predictions Marco recovers, regains his language and memory, goes back to work, to his relationship life, takes a trip to Iceland alone, the dream of his life. He is fine for a year, without treatments. We all start to hope again. The doctors themselves wonder how it was possible, they think of an error in the biopsy.

In September 2021, a freezing shower. The evil returns to the right cerebral hemisphere. But Marco is still apparently fine. He doesn’t have neurological deficits like the first time and keeps the progress acquired during the first year of the disease. After a total resection he successfully returns to work, undergoes radio and chemo again.

He hopes for her recovery with great strength and courage. This time too he seems healed. We are all starting to be optimistic again. We think that Marco’s great strength will allow evil to give him at least a long break … unfortunately it won’t be like this.

In September 2022, the disease recurred on the left where it first appeared. The Besta doctors try a second operation and new therapies. Marco responds well, even if with more difficulty. His great strength leads him to return to work, to regular walks, to social life and he is fine even if the MRIs are no longer negative as in previous years … until the short but very hard epilogue of May 2023 when he feels bad suddenly and ends its shining but short life in just 15 days.

What can I say more? Marco was a great gift for all of us and a great example of courage and trust in medical science. He believed in the cures until the last hospitalization when he whispered to me in a thin voice “maybe mom I’ll heal this time too”. I want to believe that his case and his story help everyone, patients, doctors and scientists, to realize his great dream, a near future free of Glioblastoma.”