By Mike Davey
Hamilton, Ontario -- January 29, 2014 -- Frank Italiano, owner of Westside Auto Collision in Hamilton, Ont., is facing a personal struggle. Italiano needs $15,000 doses of a cancer drug that the Ontario government does not cover.
Thanks to donations from friends and family, he received the first 100 ml dose of Adcetris at the beginning of January. His doctor estimates that he'll need seven more doses to treat a large tumor he has had since 2008. All other treatment options have failed. Italiano, who once worked seven days a week at Westside Auto Collision, now finds it difficult to walk just a few steps.
The drug is approved to treat two forms of lymphona, but is not covered by OHIP. Funding approval for those types of lymphoma could come quite soon, but Italiano's non-Hodgkins lymphoma is not one of the two types for which the drug is approved. That doesn't meant the drug does not work, but that the approval process is further along for types of cancer than for others. The drug has shown benefits in about 90 per cent of patients.
Italiano was diagnosed about five years ago. He received chemo, and kept working every day. In fact, most people didn't know he was sick. However, the chemo wasn't enough and Italiano received a stem cell transplant in August 2012. He kept working, both in his shop repairing cars and at his family's home, putting up a new shed and renovating a bathroom.
Within a year, however, it had become clear that the transplant hadn't worked. Italiano's energy is gone now, and the Adcetris is the only possible treatment.
However, each dose of the drug costs approximately $15,000, and Westside Auto Collision has been temporarily closed while Italiano battles his illness.
To help, funds may be sent via direct depost to TD Bank, account number 02372 004 6381090. E-mail money transfers may be sent directly firstname.lastname@example.org or via regular mail to Frank Italiano, 256 Graham Ave. S., Hamilton, Ont., L8K 2M6.