Matteo Vitale: 2018 Superhero Of The Year

Want a big word? Nephroma.

Want another one? Mesoblastoma.

Try Congenital mesoblastic nephroma.

If you think that is hard to pronounce, think about how hard it is to live with. It is more commonly known by the umbrella word everyone knows – cancer.

Want another big word? Hero.

It is partly defined as one who shows great courage.

21-month-old Matteo Vitale is familiar with all these words; from the onslaught that is within him to the fight he also has within him.

This year, Roselle Park started its “Superhero Of The Year” award and the initial recipient is Matteo.

Why was he recognized as such?

At six months old, Matteo was diagnosed with congenital mesoblastic nephroma. A tumor the size of a grapefruit was found on his kidney. On July 11th, the tumor was successfully removed along with his left kidney and adrenal gland. Matteo’s strength and resilience helped him through his recovery and doctors determined that no further treatment would be necessary.

Three-and-a-half months later, when Matteo visited the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia (CHOP) for a routine CAT scan, doctors noticed what appeared to be a mass on his chest. It was discovered that Matteo’s cancer was a more aggressive cellular type. He had two tumors which were non-operable on his left lung that were the size of his fist. The treatment plan was an aggressive almost half-a-year of chemotherapy.

On Halloween of last year, Matteo had his second major surgery which had a chest tube placed in his lung prior to surgery to make sure his lung did not collapse. The biopsy results showed that it was the same type of cancer which spread to his lung.

Eight days later, Matteo had his first round of chemotherapy. He and his parents attended CHOP’s Alex Scott Day Hospital every week for ten weeks, and then every other week until he completed the 25-week treatment plan.

Throughout that time Matteo had countless trips to the emergency room.

A month later, Matteo was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus which had him admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics and a blood transfusion.

On his first birthday, December 27th, Matteo spent it at the oncology clinic receiving chemotherapy.

On January 9th of this year, Matteo was sedated yet again and underwent his third major surgery to remove the tumors as well as 20% of his lung.

His last treatment was four months later on May 9th.

As of now, Matteo will be monitored closely to be sure there is no evidence of disease. Matteo will undergo monthly scans every month for a year, and quarterly for the next five years.

And all this has happened before Matteo turned two.

So yeah, Superhero.

Last night, along with his mother, father, brother, and sister, Matteo was recognized by the municipality and its residents for being their very own superhero. True to form of not letting things (or people) hold him back, he was up on the platform, at the microphones, up & down the aisles, and in everyone ‘s hearts.

While reading the proclamation, Third Ward Councilman said, “Never in a million years would I think that a hero could be so small . . . With his cancer and his fight, he always has a smile on his face.”

Alfred, Matteo’s father, spoke to those in attendance, “You never think it’s going to be your child until it is your child. The second we found out, [things] instantly changed from fear to hope. From day one Kim, my wife does a lot as far as fundraising and that’s always been the goal, just to talk about it [and] share our story with as many people as possible. We met a lot of families on the way that have gone through similar things that we have . . . so just don’t be afraid to speak about it. Thanks, everybody who came out to support Matteo and our family. William’s been great. Roselle Park has been great. Christopher’s schools have been great, his teachers have been great. We can’t say thank you enough to the community.”

Alfred concluded by saying, “Any time you’re faced or come across a family in this situation just don’t be afraid to have your presence be felt because, for the families, that’s the most important thing, whether it’s monetary, whether it’s any sort of help, it’s really the presence that matters. Thank you guys so much.”

Photographs of last night and a gift presented to Matteo is available below (Click on each for a full view):