New Group Offers Hope and Help to Cancer Patients and Caregivers

Kathy Ricci spent 35 years delivering care to patients as a nurse. For nearly 20 of those years, she worked in the Ambulatory Patient Center (APC) at Rhode Island Hospital, alongside Charles McDonald, MD, an internationally recognized dermatologist/oncologist. 

Two years ago, Kathy was back at the APC Building. But this time, as a patient


The Ricci's

The support group Hugo funded will also be the “right place” for those seeking a measure of calm in the storm that is glioblastoma.

On July 20, 2020, Kathy was demonstrating a level of confusion and forgetfulness, which was concerning to her husband, Hugo. “She couldn’t remember her social security number and then where she was,” he says. So, Kathy was taken to her local hospital for evaluation. Initially, it was thought that she may be experiencing transient ischemic attacks or mini strokes. But tests were inconclusive, and she was transferred to Rhode Island Hospital for further assessment. There, imaging scans revealed a tumor and Kathy was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a rare and fast-growing type of brain cancer with an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 months.

“We were absolutely devastated,” Hugo recalls.

On July 27, 2020, Kathy had surgery to remove the tumor and shortly after underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. What followed was months of periodic MRIs and scans to monitor Kathy’s cancer, as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and a targeted regimen of anti-angiogenic inhibitor drugs. 

Unfortunately, despite this thorough course of treatment, Kathy’s cancer continues to take a significant toll on her health. “It’s been a long, difficult road and Kathy is basically in home hospice now,” Hugo explains. “But we’re people of faith and we believe in miracles.” 


Hugo also believes in helping others who find themselves fighting the same awful battle. The retired Workers’ Compensation Court Judge donated $100,000 to create a dedicated support group at Rhode Island Hospital to assist those impacted by glioblastoma.

“I wanted to recognize my wife’s plight and her valiant effort to fight this insidious disease and to establish a forum for patients and caregiver families to connect, find out what to expect, learn from each other, and bring peace and comfort during this most challenging time,” he explains. Clinical counseling, social and emotional peer-to-peer support, and providing information and education will be components of the new program. 

“I looked into going to New York or Boston for Kathy’s care, but she said ‘no,’ she wanted to stay right here,” Hugo says. “The research I conducted confirmed the high standard of neuro-oncology care at Rhode Island Hospital, which gave me peace of mind that she was in the right place.”

The support group Hugo funded will also be the “right place” for those seeking a measure of calm in the storm that is glioblastoma.

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