My sister, Katrina Garibotto, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Carcinoma in August of 2019 at the age of 33 and passed away on January 23, 2021. She was in Vietnam about to start her dream job when masses were found on her pancreas and liver at a routine physical examination. She flew right away to Thailand and was diagnosed there with this rare disease. With the help of a family friend we were able to arrange for her to receive treatment within days of landing back in Massachusetts. Through the past year and a half she received chemotherapy and immunotherapy at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester in coordination with her neuroendocrine specialist at Boston Medical Center. In March of 2020 Katrina was on the verge of losing her battle when her specialist, Dr. Matthew Kulke of BMC, recommended she start a new form of treatment called Lutathera also known as PRRT. This treatment is not usually recommended for patients with high grade PNEC but he thought it was worth a shot. The treatment was once every 2 months for a total of 4 treatments. Katrina got lucky! Finally! Her pain and nausea subsided, her energy and appetite skyrocketed, and she was herself again. Her CT scan showed shrinkage in her pancreatic tumor and some in her liver. In the fall of 2020 Katrina’s cancer began to grow again and spread to her lungs. She tried to undergo a different kind of chemotherapy but became too sick for treatment and eventually lost her battle. Our family will forever be in debt to the team at UMass Memorial Medical Center for the day-to-day love and care she received through this journey, and to Dr. Kulke and BMC for giving her the treatment that gave her her life back for those 6 months.
Katrina had wanted to set up a fundraiser to help Dr. Kulke continue his research on neuroendocrine carcinoma but didn’t get the chance. Her life was cut short and the world is a little less bright without her here. There should have been more and better treatment options, but that cannot happen without science and research. If you can, please consider donating so that more progress can be made and others and their families don’t have to suffer Katrina’s fate. Katrina was nothing if not motivated. She was always looking to the future, and how she could improve herself to then help others with their forward progress. Your donation helps her to continue reaching her goals and lets her memory live on in the people that it helps.