Packed house in Paddock Room at Batavia Downs on Sunday to raise funds for Trigillos
Nearly 500 people turned out at Batavia Downs on Sunday afternoon in support of Joe Trigillo, who is battling glioblastoma, a cancer that forms in a person's brain and is very difficult to eradicate.
Trigillo was diagnosed in January and has been through two rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment -- one for 33 days and another of 40 days -- and the fundraiser is intended to help Joe and his wife Kathy with any extra expenses.
Kathy said her husband was overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support.
"It means the world to him," Kathy said. "Every time I bring it up he just starts to tear up and he can't believe the great outpouring of love that he's gotten."
Trigillo and members of the Trigillo's family have worked at Batavia Downs for decades, including both of Trigillo's parents. Trigillo has been a stalwart of the local bowling community his entire adult life and is a regular on the local golf tournament circuit.
"He's always been the social person," Kathy said. "He's the one that goes to the bowling tournaments. He's the one that goes to the golf tournaments. He loves to be with people. He never, ever says no because he loves to go out with other people and do things. He's just always happy to do that and he loves people."
The symptoms of glioblastoma can be non-specific and are different for individuals, depending on where in the brain the cancer starts and how it progresses. At the start of the bowling season, Trigillo didn't have his A-game going and he and Kathy took it as an early-season slump.
"You just think it's a slump but he wasn't getting out of the slump," Kathy said. "Still, we didn't think much of it other than he's in a slump."
The community sees Joe the competitor and may not perceive he has a softer side, Kathy said, but he can get emotional in private; however, when Joe started crying during Hallmark movies, Kathy sensed he was being more emotional than usual. Even so, she didn't suspect a serious issue.
But then one day DirecTV called and when Joe wanted to hand the phone off to his wife, he couldn't remember her name.
That weekend, walking across some pavement, Kathy noticed Joe was shuffling his feet. She started to suspect a mini-stroke. That Monday, Jan. 14, she called a doctor who told her to take Joe to the emergency room at UMMC.
"They immediately ordered an MRI after I told them the symptoms," Kathy said. "I think they must have known more than we did."
The MRI revealed two tumors in the lower left frontal lobe and Joe was taken by ambulance to Buffalo General Medical Center.
Once there, surgery was quickly ruled out for treatment.
"If they did surgery to remove the tumors, it was a high risk to cause the whole right side of his body to be paralyzed and he would not be able to speak," Kathy said.
From Buffalo General, Joe was sent to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is also in Buffalo.
The regime of chemo and radiation was rough, Kathy said. Joe was hospitalized a couple of times during the treatment, with treatment suspended once because of complications.
The typical prognosis for glioblastoma is a survival rate of 12 to 15 months. Kathy is hopeful Joe will get back to doing the things he loves this spring and summer.
They'll know more when they meet with doctors at Roswell again on April 14.
"We're hoping that we're going to fight this and that we're going to play golf this summer and we're going to be at the long end of that prognosis," Kathy said.