Facing cancer or another life-threatening disease is daunting enough. But, as many know all too well, the financial expenses of everyday life do not go away. Such is the case for the Ciotti family of Madison.
Mike Ciotti, an offensive and defensive line coach at Daniel Hand High School, was living what he called a “great life” with his wife Licia, his four kids and his dog.
But at the end of last year, Ciotti felt a lump behind his ear. By Christmas, it had grown to the size of a grape. After seeing a doctor, Ciotti discovered he had a malignant tumor in his salivary gland and in four lymph nodes.
The months that followed were filled with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
"The second surgery was really hard. Really hard. I mean, he did not bounce back like he did on the first one," explained Licia Ciotti.
That meant Mike Ciotti could barely work at his full-time job selling sports equipment, from which he earns a living on a 100 percent commission basis.
"If I don't sell anything, I don't get paid," Mike Ciotti said.
According to Licia Ciotti, "there wasn't much savings to start on, but that was gone in the first eight weeks."
Enter Amy's Angels, a Simsbury-based organization started by Bob Fiondella when his cousin was dying of cancer.
"That's really why Amy's Angels was created. To one, keep her memory alive and to try to help others," explained Fiondella.
Unlike charities that use money for research, Amy's Angels gives all money directly to those fighting health challenges. So far, Amy’s Angels has helped more than a dozen families and given out more than $100,000.
Amy's Angels paid the Ciottis' mortgage.
"To know that they were able to help us financially kind of takes a piece away that helps you be stronger and focus on other things," Licia Ciotti said.
Just three months removed from treatment, Mike Ciotti has his energy back.
He says that once he is completely cancer-free, he and his wife want to help others through Amy's Angels, giving back all they have received and then some.