Grateful Patient Gets Well and Gives Back

Gratitude - RIH Mike
(L-R) Mike Foncellino, Jr.; Nurse Karen Niez; Mike Foncellino; Ann Foncellino; Dr. Olszewski; and Jonathan Cornwell.

Mike Foncellino says he was always a healthy guy. So, you can imagine his shock when his doctor’s office called him—while he was out on a bike ride, no less—to tell him he had to get to an emergency room immediately. “The blood test I took the day before indicated that one of my kidneys was failing,” he says, “I was stunned.”

It was July 2020, and Mike remembers he “wasn’t feeling great” and hadn’t urinated in a day or so. But he thought that he might be coming down with the flu, something his wife Ann recently had. It was his children, Michael Jr. and Michele, who noticed his ankles were swollen and suggested he see his doctor in the first place.

Shortly after the call from his physician, Mike was at Rhode Island Hospital, where stents were inserted to help drain urine from his kidney. Once stabilized and admitted, he underwent an ultrasound imaging test, which detected a tumor. A biopsy confirmed it was stage 4 lymphoma. “I didn’t know how severe it was at the time,” Mike recalls, “Fortunately, I met Dr. O and his team.”

“Dr. O” is Adam Olszewski, MD, hematologist–oncologist and researcher with the Lifespan Cancer Institute. Mike initially met with Dr. O in collaboration with Oncology Fellow Kathryn DeCarli, MD, who explained his condition and outlined an aggressive course of treatment to combat the cancer.

“They said I needed six months of chemotherapy in cycles that ran 24/7 for five days followed by three weeks off,” Mike explains. “They hit the nail on the head. It worked and I’m cancer-free!”

Everyone at the hospital – doctors, nurses, support staff – showed an incredible commitment to my welfare and I am eternally grateful.

Mike also credits his son-in-law, Jonathan Cornwell, a nurse anesthetist at Rhode Island Hospital, with being with him every step of the journey. “He was my wingman and my son, Mike Jr., was always there for me on weekends at the Infusion Center."

A Brooklyn native, Mike still engages in the old-school New York habit of tipping people for a job well done—and even tried the practice with hospital staff. “I was told ‘That’s just not done here’,” he jokes. “But we found another way to show our appreciation. Me and Ann decided to make monthly donations to the LCI Malloy Strong Fund...That’s our tip.”


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