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Carmela “Moo” Loschiavo is an 8 year old little girl with Down Syndrome. In 2007, at 15 months of age she was diagnosed with a Fibrillary Astrocytoma which is a benign brain tumor. The tumor was diagnosed 10 days after the birth of her little brother, Paolo.
Carmela’s tumor, aka “Voldemort” lies deep within the brain near the optic nerve. Carmela was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she underwent a 12 hour surgery to remove the tumor. Due to the location of the tumor, the neurosurgeon was unable to remove all of it. The tumor is not a mass, but rather a branch that wraps around her hypothalamus and pituitary glands. During her surgery, Carmela suffered a mild stroke affecting her right side. Carmela’s peripheral vision was also affected in her right eye. Approximately 3 months after surgery, the tumor grew back and Carmela underwent 1 1/2 years of chemotherapy treatments. The tumor shrunk and remained dormant for 3 years.
In 2011, an MRI showed the tumor had grown back. Carmela had a second surgery followed by 2 years of chemotherapy. Her last two MRIs have shown a stable tumor and she has been chemotherapy free since May 2013.
Carmela and her family were recently featured on the HBO series – Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (10/22/13). The documentary focused on the organization called Friends of Jaclyn. This organization is a pediatric brain tumor awareness program which matches children with brain tumors with collegiate teams. Carmela was paired with the Princeton University Women’s Field Hockey Team.
Carmela is a second grader in the Learning Language Disabled program at Milltown School in Bridgewater, NJ. She is a participant in the Somerset County Special Olympics competing in the 25M dash and Softball Throw. She loves music, dancing, and having tea parties. She loves the outdoors and spending time with her family and pet cat, “Spooky.”
Since Carmela’s diagnosis, several organizations have supported our family during this tragic time in our lives. We are grateful for the generosity of the following organizations; Bernards Twp. PBA Local 357, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, The Nick Magos Cancer Call Out, The Vailsburg Irish American Association, The Somerville Elks, Milltown School Community of Caring, and Friends of Jaclyn. Along with our family and friends, we could not have continued this fight without their support. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.