MILDURA’S Larry Dichiera never got to walk down the aisle with the love of his life.
He never got to become a father and he never got to see his adored nieces grow up.
At just 37, Larry lost his short battle with Cancer Unknown Primary (CUP), less than six months after he was diagnosed.
Originally in hospital for a routine hernia operation, Larry told Sunraysia Daily in February this year he was “completely shocked” when doctors told him they had discovered cancer in his abdominal area during the surgery.
“You go in for an operation on a hernia, it’s pretty common, so you don’t think anything of it,” he said.
“You wake up in hospital the next morning and the doctor tells you, you have cancer.
“It was pretty hard to believe.”
Larry died on March 12 this year surrounded by his family and fiancee Felicity Carpenzano.
Now, Ms Carpenzano is determined to grant Larry’s final wish – to help other families by donating the almost $61,000 raised for treatment he never got the chance to undergo.
“We want to honour Larry’s memory with this donation and hope it will help support families going through a similar situation that are faced with an unknown cancer diagnosis,” she said.
“Larry said he wouldn’t wish CUP on his worst enemy after everything he went through and he hoped the donation would help find answers one day.”
The money was raised through a GoFundMe page, where people from Sunraysia and beyond got behind Larry, raising $50,000 in the first five days and eventually reaching $60,995.
It was earmarked to help Larry receive immunotherapy, a type of cancer treatment which boosts the body’s natural defences to improve or restore immune system function.
“Finding out the person you love has cancer is hard enough to swallow, but then discovering the doctors don’t know how to treat it because they can’t find the origin of the cancer is truly devastating,” Ms Carpenzano said.
Founder and chief executive officer of Rare Cancers Australia (RCA) Richard Vines said they were “extremely grateful” to Larry and his family for their generosity.
“Their donation to our charity will make a huge difference in helping support other families that have to go through the painful and complex process of diagnosing and treating CUP,” Mr Vines said.
“The reality is, three times as many people die from CUP than deaths in road accidents, but with very limited investment and understanding of this condition, Australians like Larry face the devastating reality of not receiving treatment in time, if at all.”
Ms Carpenzano urged anyone who had concerns about their health to be aware and seek medical advice.
“Don’t take your health for granted, if you feel that something is wrong don’t take the risk of not getting it checked out, even if it’s something small,” she said.
“Cancer does not discriminate against age either – people of any age could be in this position, just like Larry who never thought it would be him and looked after himself so well.”
Ms Carpenzano and Larry’s family thanked everyone who donated and for their love and support.
This story appears in Friday's Sunraysia Daily 17/05/2019. To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here