BY Kristie L. Kahl
Although many have never heard of them, pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma
are two types of rare cancers that are not news to Matthew Capogreco and his family.
With a long list of relatives – nine to be exact – who were diagnosed with these two tumor types, Capogreco himself was 25 when he demanded his physician test him for the disease after feeling symptoms his father had already experienced before his own diagnosis. He was first diagnosed with bi-lateral carotid paragangliomas asymptomatic and has since had multiple bouts of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma.
With this, his motto has turned to “seven times down, eight times up.”
“The person that perseveres is the one who gets up that one last time,” Capogreco. “That’s what we have to do. We have no choice. If we’re down at the end and we don’t get back up, there’s no coming back from it.”
Now cancer free, Capogreco serves as the president of the Board of Pheo Para Alliance, which aims to empower patients with pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma, their families and medical professionals through advocacy, education and a global community of support, while helping to advance research that accelerates treatments and cures.
“The question is why should other people care about this rare disease that will never touch your life?” he said. “My response to that is this small disease has so many components we know about…if you could solve one small piece of the cancer puzzle it will have a great effect on all of the other puzzle pieces.”
For more information, visit pheopara.org