By: Jennifer Hoffman

1 in 1 million. 

That’s the number of people who are diagnosed with Thymic Carcinoma. 

It’s about 400 people each year. 

It’s a statistic that Marianito Roque is now a part of. 

His cancer was discovered by accident during a routine scan to monitor his aortic aneurysm in October of 2018. During that scan the doctors discovered that he had a mass in between his heart and lungs.  

“The problem with this kind of cancer is when the symptoms appear, it’s too late. I’ve been very lucky with my medical problems because they were discovered by accident. I’m lucky in that way. “ remarked Nito.

The Egg Harbor City couple found themselves in a frightening situation. The doctors at Atlanticare recommended him to speak with a thoracic surgeon to do surgery to remove the cancerous mass. A nurse navigator put Nito in touch with a surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania.  

On September 9th 2019, Nito had surgery to remove the mass. When he visited the surgeon two weeks later the post op scan showed no sign of cancer but he still recommended Nito to have follow up treatment with radiation or chemotherapy. 

“It was a hard decision for me to make, if they took out all the cancer what are we treating? The long term effects of the treatment we don’t know. It’s hard mentally.” he said  

After thinking long and hard about his decision, Nito and his wife Louise ultimately decided that going through with radiation is worth the risk if it meant the cancer wouldn’t return. 

The couple is currently residing at Nick’s House while Nito receives radiation treatment every day. He is on session 11 of 25. 

“Everyone is nice at the hospital so this experience has been very pleasant overall, the only unpleasant thing is getting the treatment.” Nito said. 

HEADstrong and Nick’s House helped alleviate the stress for Nito and Louise, instead of driving up and down the Atlantic City Expressway they are able to take a short 20 minute drive or train ride into the city. 

“Staying here is very comfortable. They call us family, I feel like I’m staying at a friend’s house. You can come and go as you please, all of the facilities you can think of are here.” Nito said. 

He and his wife Louise will be at Nick’s House throughout the holiday season but they aren’t letting being away from their family get them down. The atmosphere that the families have created at Nick’s House is one full of hope, home and healing this holiday season that there isn’t anywhere else they’d rather be.

If all goes well, Nito’s last radiation treatment will be on December 31st and he can ring in 2020 the best way possible; ringing that bell at UPenn to signify he has completed his treatment. 

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