Matteo Raineri Cavalca

Matteo Raineri Cavalca’s parents count their blessings every day. One of these blessings stands out among the rest: that their son is still in their lives, two years after a fall in October 2014 turned their world upside down.

Tatiana Raineri and Roger Cavalca didn’t think much of Matteo’s fall until a couple of days after it happened, when he became sick to his stomach and started passing blood in his urine. They took him to the Emergency Department at BC Children’s Hospital; he was admitted and stayed in the Oncology Department for 32 days.

Just weeks before his 12th birthday, Matteo was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer known as Wilms tumour, or nephroblastoma. It was a Stage 3 tumour, but luckily the cancer had not spread to any other organs or to his lymph nodes at the time it was discovered. Wilms tumour is the most common form of kidney cancer in children but it normally affects kids between the ages of two and four. It is treatable, but can often go unnoticed because it doesn’t always show signs or symptoms in its early stages.

Following three surgeries, Matteo underwent several rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment often made him nauseous and, at times, he had to get his nutrients through a feeding tube. He lost a total of six kilograms in just two months — a huge cause of concern for his parents because Matteo had always been small for his age. At birth, he weighed just over five pounds. Bruno, his older brother, likes to say he is “small on the outside but big on the inside.”

Over the following few months, Matteo regularly visited BC Children’s Hospital for hemodialysis (during which a machine takes over the kidney’s job of filtering his blood) and chemo treatments. Ten months after his diagnosis the good news arrived: Matteo was in remission.

Thankful for everything the hospital’s Nephrology and Oncology departments did for Matteo, his family organized a fundraiser at their local church to mark the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis.

Their efforts inspired another group to step up: colleagues and friends at Roger's workplace Clevest Solutions. To recognize Matteo's strength and the care he received at BC Children's, the group raised an impressive $10,000 for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“I cannot imagine celebrating our victory without honouring Matteo and the departments that helped make his healing possible,” Tatiana wrote on her blog.

Through the foundation, the family got the opportunity to enjoy, with Matteo, one of the biggest moments of their son’s young life: he was invited to a Vancouver Canucks game to meet Brandon Prust and his idols Daniel and Henrik Sedin. It was a memorable day for him, to say the least.