I sit in the waiting room trying so hard not to be scared.

I try to convince myself that my husband, Nicola, is fine. The indigestion and chest pain he’s been having is nothing to worry about.
 
Then the nurse comes out to tell me the doctor wants to talk to me. And my heart drops.
 
Gently, Dr. Ronan Behar, a gastroenterologist, says the words I’ve been dreading. “I’m so sorry Mrs. Marchese, your husband has stomach cancer.”
 
It’s all I can do not to fall apart right there in the doctor’s office. This can’t be happening to us.
 
Please, not again.
 
You see, a year ago we lost our beloved son Franco to pancreatic cancer. He was only 47. I don’t think I have the strength to face cancer again — to lose someone else I dearly love.
 
We were referred to Dr. Federico Pampaloni, a general surgeon at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH) with a specialty in minimally invasive surgery in upper gastro-intestinal cancer. From our first meeting, he put my mind at ease. He explains everything thoroughly, even drawing a diagram to show us exactly what he’ll be doing in surgery.
 
I look at Dr. Pampaloni’s hands and I know in my heart they will save my husband.
 
There aren’t enough words to express all the gratitude I feel for Dr. Behar, Dr. Pampaloni, and everyone at OTMH for taking such good care of Nicola. And I’m just as grateful to you for helping to provide the specialized equipment and technology they need to do their job.
 
Your support is the reason my husband and many other cancer patients can benefit from the latest surgical techniques close to home, avoiding the stress and exhaustion we would face if we had to travel to Toronto or Hamilton.
 
I wish I could thank you in person for everything you’ve done to give my family hope. And I hope you’ll do the same for the many people who will turn to OTMH for advanced cancer care and treatment by making a special gift today.
 
Believe me, your support today will make a difference for cancer patients in the Operating Room at our hospital. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
 
Dr. Pampaloni has a plan to remove Nicola’s tumour with a minimally-invasive surgery that takes five hours. I’m not even scared as I wait for it to be over. That’s how confident I am in his abilities. I know his hands are special.
 
When the operation is over, Dr. Pampaloni comes to find me in the waiting room. With a big smile, he wraps me in a warm hug. “Everything went well,” he says. “The tumour is out.”
 
I’m amazed by how quickly Nicola recovers from his surgery. He spends 10 days in OTMH where he’s treated like a prince. Dr. Pampaloni comes to see him every day — even coming in unexpectedly before he leaves for a convention.
 
Nicola’s experience reminds us how important it is to have access to great cancer care close to home. I too live with cancer — lymphoma — and my oncologist is also at OTMH.
 
As we get close to the end of the year, the hospital is counting on your help to buy the latest equipment on their list.
 
Your special gift today will ensure OTMH has the technology it needs to attract talented surgeons like Dr. Pampaloni. It will give more cancer patients in our community the chance to benefit from minimally-invasive procedures like the surgery that saved my husband.
 
When Nicola was first diagnosed with cancer, it tore me apart. I thought I would lose my husband just like I lost my son. Dr. Pampaloni and everyone at OTMH gave me a reason to keep hope alive in my heart. With your generosity, you have too.
 
Please do the same for other families by sending your gift today. When it comes to fighting cancer, access to world-class care right here in our own community is what gives us the best hope of all.