For Patients

Creativity Unleashed

Patient: John Cavaiuolo
Diagnosis: GVHD
SIght Restored: January 2010

John's eyesight was compromised when he was stricken with ocular GVHD

Reflecting back on his life at age 82, John Cavaiuolo recalls two miracles: surviving “incurable” lymphoma, and getting his sight back. And he is not letting those miracles go to waste.

The oldest of three sons of Italian immigrants, John was raised in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Growing up during the 1930’s he saw firsthand the misery and despair caused by the Great Depression. That experience molded his work ethic and determination to succeed in life.

After serving in the Marines, John began his career at CitiBank in 1956 and quickly rose through the ranks. When he retired in 1995, he looked forward to golfing, building a new home with his wife, Ellen, and reading all the books he never had time for.

Then disaster struck. Diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma in 2002, he was given a few months to live.  But John wasn’t ready to give up. When offered the chance to join an experimental stem cell transplant program, he jumped.  Defying all odds, one year later he was cancer free.

During his months of hospitalization, John developed an idea for a novel.  But actually writing it would prove to be an enormous challenge.  Already burdened with cataracts, John developed ocular GVHD which rendered one eye shut until his cornea could heal. Virtually sightless for two years, John spent hours each day mentally developing the complex plot and sub plots.

After cataract surgery in 2005, John regained enough vision to put pen to paper.  But the debilitating effects of GVHD deteriorated his sight further. Ever the Marine, in 2009 John’s relentless pursuit of a solution led him to BFS and Dr. Alan Kwok. With new PROSE devices in place, he picked up a magazine and read the printed word for the first time in nearly four years.  His treatment a success, John launched himself fully into readying the book for publication.

Eight years in the making, John Cavaiuolo- John “Cavi” to his fans- realized his dream when The President’s Ultimatum was published to critical acclaimin 2011. “It was a long journey, but I never faltered. I was determined to see the novel to fruition,” said John.

Dr. Alan Kwok: “John’s life has been characterized by great strength and perseverance; once the final hurdle of vision was crossed his creative side was unleashed. We are privileged to be part of the larger story of his life."

Update: In June 2012, The President’s Ultimatum was named as a finalist for both the 2012 International Book Awards and the 2012 INDIE Excellence Award. Congratulations, John!

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