My father, Dean by Melissa Pulsinelli
I've always felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
How did I get so lucky to be welcomed into the earth by such a cool dad?
My father, Dean, was born in Long Island, New York into a large Italian family. At age 10, his first 'job' was selling tickets in front of the Nassau Coliseum and with every ticket he sold illegally, he used every dollar to help support his family. Although he never went to college, he worked extremely hard and built great friendships.
Growing up, he took me fishing almost every day over the summer and cooked meatballs every Sunday morning.
As the daughter of the “ticket guy,” I was lucky enough to attend hundreds of concerts, broadway shows and baseball games which made my childhood extremely exciting. Everyone knew him, everywhere we went people yelled “hey Dean!”
He helped to create these amazing memories together and provided me with life lessons that I'll never forget like the importance of being a leader, a friend and to be independent.
Because of that, I found myself joining AmeriCorps a few years after college to help other people just as much as my dad helped me. Due to the distance (I was living on the west coast), I would call my dad everyday to catch up.
One day on the way home from working an extremely tiring shift in San Francisco, I gave my Dad a call to see how he was doing but he didn't answer.
Brother Bryan: Hey Mel, I think you should come home.
Me: "Why? I have one more month left before completing my term of service.”
Bryan: "Dad is going to Sloan to get a biopsy on his lungs”
I did not get past the irony of traveling across the country to help the east coast right before Hurricane Sandy hit while my dad was diagnosed with Mesothelioma Cancer.
Don't google it, don't google it, don't go on the internet - says everyone. So sure enough, I went directly to the internet and found out that those who were diagnosed with Mesothelioma did not last long after that. My dad had never smoked a cigarette and didn’t work in a field where his lungs should be compromised.
My emotions were a mix of sadness and anger. I couldn't even believe that this was happening. We're good people… why and how could this happen to our family.
He had been going through this battle for almost 2 years. Starting with radiation to stop the cancer around his lungs from spreading transitioned into a cocktail of medicine in the realm for chemotherapy. When his last treatment came to an end, the last option for us was to remove the tar-like cancer substance around his lungs. Waiting “patiently” at Memorial Sloan for my father to get out of surgery, we knew there were two outcomes that could happen: 1. Dr. Rusche was able to remove as much tar or lung as possible and we would have longer days to spend with him or 2. The cancer is too far along and poking into and around his lungs would do more harm than good which would essentially be a sit and wait game for his life.
The snow melted from the ground on the first day of spring just as my dad took his last breath while staring into the sunset. March 20th will never be the same. He was able to meet my boyfriend at the time, now fiancé and his two grandbabies.
I knew right then and there I had to do something. I had to be more knowledgeable about experimental treatments and couldn't have other families be part of a statistic like once diagnosed with Meso, there is an average life expectancy of 6-12 months to live or that lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in both women and men in the United States. I've dedicated my life and career to raising funds for research, education and advocacy.
Will you join me in the LUNG FORCE Movement and donate to Team Doin it for Deano and Dimitri?
Melissa Pulsinelli, NY
Melissa Pulsinelli supports the American Lung Association.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. Our work is focused on five strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases; and to accelerate fundraising and enhance organizational effectiveness to support the urgency of our mission.