Gone in 5 Weeks: Carly D’Arpino Runs for Mom

There aren’t many illnesses that can take a healthy woman and render her completely helpless in a matter of days. Pancreatic cancer is a disease which can do exactly that. When Jean Amodio was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she was a stunningly beautiful, vibrant, active 64-year-old woman. Just days later, she could no longer even lift her own head off her pillow and required round the clock care. Jean’s daughter, Carly D’Arpino, was so traumatized by her mother’s rapid decline and death, she had to do something. She is now training for her first marathon, which she will run with Project Purple in her mother’s honor.

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Carly D’Arpino (left) with her mom, Jean Amodio

Sudden Diagnosis

Carly D’Arpino was blindsided by her mother’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Earlier in the spring of 2016, Jean had been diagnosed with early breast cancer. Even though the tumor was very small, she had a mastectomy as was recommended by her doctor. Fortunately for Jean, no additional treatment was required.

Following her brush with breast cancer, Jean continued to be as spirited as ever. Still, she experienced a few minor issues during the summer of 2016. She was feeling a bit fatigued at times , which doctors attributed to her having had breast cancer. She also had some stomach issues that were written off as side effects of the Humira she took for her Rheumatoid Arthritis. All of her blood tests were normal, so doctors did not think anything was seriously wrong.

New Symtpoms

However, Jean’s stomach became so bloated she ended up seeking treatment at the hospital on October 24th, 2016. In a stunning turn of events, doctors discovered a mass in her abdomen. She returned to the hospital for a biopsy on October 26th and was officially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Carly was in shock when she heard the news. “Mom was fine. Literally completely fine. She had breast cancer in the spring of 2016, but it was a small thing and she didn’t need chemo or radiation. She was vibrant, active, and took care of my kids.”

The next few weeks were a blur of activity and an emotional roller coaster. Jean’s condition changed day to day or even hour to hour. Carly recalls, “We had no recent family pictures, so we took some on November 6th. Mom looked absolutely beautiful. Then one week later, she was in the hospital. It was just awful.”

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Carly D’Arpino’s mom Jean Amodio with Teddy. Taken three weeks before Jean passed away.

Emotional and Physical Roller coaster

Jean was in the hospital from November 14th until the 19th.  There were good moments sandwiched in with the bad. Jean was able to play with Carly’s kids the week before Thanksgiving, but then experienced another rapid decline. “She couldn’t pick her head up,” Carly explains. “Mom had to have a nurse care for her around the clock.” Jean was re-hospitalized on November 24th, 2016. She remained there until she passed away November 30th, 2016.

Carly lost her mother, her best friend, in just five short weeks. “It was a living nightmare,” she says. “Sometimes I still think I am going to wake up and it will be a dream.” Only three weeks before her diagnosis, Jean and Carly’s dad, Frank, had taken Carly’s five-year-old son, Timmy, on a fun-filled weekend to Mystic, CT. They took him shopping and to the aquarium. Carly still has trouble making sense of it all. “She was this super hands-on grandmother and she suffered so much.”

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Jean Amodio with granddaughter Quinn D’Arpino, daughter of Carly D’Arpino

Carly D’Arpino & Jean Amodio: Best Friends

Carly has always been extremely close to her family. Until a few months ago, Carly  lived around the corner from her parents. When asked to come up with a memory of something special they did together, Carly struggled to think of one thing that stood out because they did everything together. Even going to the grocery store was a family affair.

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The extended family, photo courtesy of Carly D’Arpino

“She was the best and she had the biggest smile. She was funny and so full of life. Everyone seriously loved her.” In fact, Jean was so beloved in the community, the highway had to be shut down to accommodate all of the cars trying to get to her funeral service. 

Carly D’Arpino lives with her husband, Anthony, and their 6-year-old son, Timmy, and 3-year-old daughter, Quinn, in Harrison, New York. The couple owns and operates the Harrison Wine Vault together.

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Carly D’Arpino with husband, Anthony, son Timmy and daughter Quinn

Carly D’Arpino Joins Project Purple

Carly became intrigued by marathons while she attended Boston College. Every year, she and her college friends would go watch the Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day. Since college, running has become a part of her exercise routine. She runs a couple of days per week, but also does spin and barre classes along with a cross-training class called ‘Ripped’.

Seven years ago Carly ran a half-marathon, but she never felt compelled to go the full 26.2 mile distance until her mom battled pancreatic cancer. “I wanted to pair up with a charity that meant something to me. I did some internet research and found Project Purple,” Carly explains. She chose the New York City Marathon as her goal race because she has heard great things about it. She has a group of friends who are also training to run the marathon and they help keep each other on target and motivated.

Not Enough Time with her Mom

Pancreatic cancer robbed Carly and her family of precious time with Jean. “There was just not enough time. “The last few weeks were filled with doctor appointments every day: oncology, pain management, draining her abdomen, etc. We had talked about going to Hershey, PA together but at that point, she was in so much pain she couldn’t even sit comfortably. She had ascites and the doctors constantly had to drain fluid off her abdomen. One day they drained 9 liters of fluid out of her and three days later it filled up again. There was just not enough time.”

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Jean Amodio with daughter Carly D’Arpino

Carly’s mom is never far from her mind as she prepares for the New York City Marathon. She tears up as she remembers how heartbroken her son Timmy was when Jean passed away. His sadness, and the intense pain her mom experienced with her illness, still haunt her. “My mom went through so much. I know I can always get up and run a few miles, no matter what.”

Please support Carly D’Arpino by making a contribution to her Project Purple fundraiser. Click HERE

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