As the region’s sarcoma specialist, each time Doctor Matthew DiCaprio goes into the operating room, he knows medical and emotional support for patients goes hand-in-hand.
That’s why he started Sarcoma Strong, an organization that supports families through their diagnosis and raises money for the disease.
“Most other cancers like carcinomas have big followings and big community support. Sarcoma, being rare, does not have that,” DiCaprio said.
Sarcoma is known as a “forgotten cancer.” It’s one of the rarest, making up only 1% of all adult cancer diagnoses, according to the National Foundation for Cancer Research.
“Their families entrust their lives to me, to make a diagnosis and treat them properly, but then to learn more about them as people and individuals and be part of their world has really been inspiring,” DiCaprio said.
The Meier family is one of those groups of individuals that benefit from Dr. DiCaprio’s advocacy and care. Kathy Meier’s 17-year-old daughter, Jenna, was diagnosed back in February. She’s a patient of DiCaprio’s and her mom says her experience working with him was life changing.
“You really need a huge support system to get through something like this,” Meier said.
According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, only 4% of funding goes to childhood cancer. Meier says organizations like Sarcoma Strong need all the support they can get.
“It could be any of our children. It’s kind of cliché to think this isn’t going to happen to your family, but it did,” Meier said.
Through Jenna’s fight, Kathy knows Sarcoma Strong and Doctor DiCaprio will be by their side.
“I’ve had so many friends reach out and say this could have been any of our kids,” Meier said.