The tapestry of Bob DiAntonio’s cancer story is woven through with sparkling threads of grace, positivity, and love. From the very beginning, Bob was fortunate enough to receive his cancer diagnosis early on when nagging back problems sent him to seek treatment from his chiropractor. His chiropractor noticed some concerning things and had Bob seek further evaluation right away. The timing seemed awful. Bob and his wife Donna were all set to move into a new home. So when only one of the resulting lab tests came back positive, Bob and Donna wanted to take that as a good sign that they were in the clear! Thankfully, a caring physician reached out and convinced Bob over a Zoom call that he unfortunately did have Multiple Myeloma, and that immediate treatment was essential. As Bob and Donna started navigating the challenges and burdens that chemo brought, one blessing was immediately evident. Their new home was much closer to his treatment centers!
Once Bob was convinced that a bone marrow transplant was needed, he was ready to jump in and get it over with! “I’m not the most patient person,” he shared with a chuckle. “I wanted to get on with this and do this as soon as we could!” Unfortunately, the necessary preparatory treatments and the arrival of the COVID pandemic slamming the breaks on almost all transplants required patience. . Bob kept going with his preparation treatments to get his numbers down and had faith that God would work out the timing.
Finally, that May, Bob was able to move forward with his bone marrow transplant. “His surgery was the same month as his birthday,” Donna, his wife shared. “So this procedure was very much a ‘rebirth’ of sorts for us.” Both birth and rebirth require a lot of growth afterward. And Bob remembers the time following his transplant as “the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.” He quickly credits his wife with being his rock during this time. “Donna is the reason I made it through; that I’m still here,” he says. But in addition to his beloved wife, he proudly and tearfully displays two huge frames hung next to his desk. Each frame contains tiny strips of vari-colored paper. Each strip has words of encouragement, hope, and love written from various members of Bob’s family, friends, and church. “Those strips were initially woven together in a paper chain of love. One link for each of the first 100 days after the transplant, which are considered the most crucial to recovery.” Those paper strips were a shining light of love to Bob as he struggled through the recovery process.
Once again, God’s grace was evident as Bob’s numbers started recovering quickly. COVID actually turned out to be a bit of a blessing, as isolation was normal for everyone; not just for Bob and Donna. And mask wearing was widely accepted, and didn’t make Bob feel as if he stood out as he protected himself. Bob embraced sitting outside on his porch, and taking walks when he was able to. A sparkly Christmas coaster with the word “Hope” etched on it stayed out long past when other decorations were put away. And Bob’s numbers continued to get better and better as he placed his faith in God to see him through.
And in the best, most miraculous news of all, Bob recently received lab work that came back completely clean; he was finally in remission. Bob, Donna, and their friends and family are completely overjoyed and blessed by God’s grace and kindness.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Bob shared that he has been asking himself: “Why me? What am I supposed to do with this additional time I have been given?” As he has looked around at his life, and the work he is involved in, the answer became obvious. Share his story. Help others. Inspire others, and point them to God.
Bob’s words of advice to others in his circumstance come washed in caring, empathy, and humility. “Never give up. Don’t be too proud to accept help from your team. Get outside whenever you can! And above all, have faith and hope.”
Photo by Patrick Cox
Story by Cassie Thompson