Benefit Sunday for Castalia cancer patient

CASTALIA A brightly lit Christmas tree decorates the living room. Ornaments made by the couple
May 24, 2010



A brightly lit Christmas tree decorates the living room.  Ornaments made by the couple's three children hang from the tree's branches.

Tony and Angie Esposito sit and watch as their three rambunctious sons play and laugh.

To the outside world, the Espositos look like an all-American family enjoying the holidays. But appearances are deceiving. This family is struggling to make ends meet while their father battles an illness.

Tony, 32, was diagnosed with colon cancer in August. He underwent surgery to remove a third of his colon and some small intestine and muscle.

Since his diagnosis, Tony said life has been "a bunch of chaos."

Tony and Angie have been married for nine years. They have three sons: Noah, 9, Wyatt, 5, and Haden, 2.

Earlier this summer, Tony met with a doctor at his job at Automotive Component Holdings to be fitted for a respirator.

During the examination, the doctor detected abnormal bloating on his side and advised Tony to have it checked out. His family doctor ordered tests and Tony was informed he had stage 3 hereditary colon cancer.

"I was scared," Tony said. "A lot of different things went through my head."

After a colonoscopy that confirmed the diagnosis, Tony's condition deteriorated. His last day of work at the plant was Aug. 2.

His surgery was Aug. 28.

Since Tony stopped working, Angie has been the sole provider for the family of five.

Angie works full-time as a senior team leader at Target. She puts in 40-hour weeks there, then works part-time at Sear's portrait studio on top of caring for her husband and their three children.

The couple travels to the Cleveland Clinic several times a month for Tony's chemotherapy. Rising gas prices, doctors' co-pays and medications have been costly. General household expenses and bills are another matter. On top of that, the couple still has to pay about $10,000 for their share of Tony's surgery.

"We're barely making it," Angie said.

Tony, who has lost 50 pounds since his diagnosis, said he's feeling OK, but described his days as sometimes good, sometimes bad.

The couple's relatives are organizing a pancake breakfast to help them out with expenses. Angie's father is lending a hand by paying his daughter's car payments. Family and friends have been helping out with yard work and taking care of the kids.

"They're trying to help to give us a little room to breathe," Angie said. "We have felt very blessed."

Esposito has about four more months of chemotherapy before undergoing a PET scan to see if the cancer is still present. He is optimistic about the future.

"I fully believe this is going to be gone," he said.

How to help

WHAT: Pancake Breakfast Benefit. There will also be a bake sale, raffles and a chance to win a 50-50 monetary prize to be split with the family.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: St. Mary's High School cafeteria

COST: $5 adults and $3 for children

INFO: For information or to volunteer or donate, call Vicki McElroy at 419-656-7578. Monetary donations may also be made to the Anthony Esposito Fund at any Key Bank location.