On September 30th, 2011 Nick Magnotti (then just 24 years old) was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called Mucinous Adenocarcinoma. Very hard to eradicate and equally hard to treat, the cancer had originated in his appendix and then spread throughout his abdominal cavity. Friends and family surrounded Nick and his wife Alyssa as they searched for a doctor who could help.
Nick’s story of bravery and trust in the Lord has spread throughout the world because of a YouTube video that he and his wife made for their daughter. Recorded just months before he died, the video has been translated to Spanish and has touched the hearts of over 1 million viewers. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch below.
Nick left behind an amazing legacy that has spread far and wide around this country and this world; reaching the minds and hearts of over 1 million people. None has been moreso encouraged and strengthened by his faith than his beloved best friend and bride, Alyssa and, in turn, their nine month old daughter, Austyn. Nick was a treasured brother to Jacqueline, Michelle and Benjamin and cherished son to Linda, Jeff and Virgil; he will never be forgotten.
Nicholas Jeffrey Magnotti was born on October 12, 1986 (just 8 minutes before his twin sister) and went home to be with Jesus at 27 years old on January 7th, 2014. To say that Nick was one of the best is an understatement. His ability to be an amazing father, husband, son, brother and friend was never hindered by the physical trials he suffered. His courage, faith, hope, and joy were unmatched through even the worst of times.
Nick grew up in Bellevue and was always surrounded by his family and many friends. He spent his childhood having fun hanging out with his friends from Lake Hills and participating in all kinds of sports from his favorites; baseball and football, to water polo, tennis, swim and dive, skiing and even cheerleading. Nick attended Spirit Ridge and Phantom Lake Elementary School and went to middle school at Olympus and Tillakum. Nick then graduated from Sammamish High School in 2005 and went on to cheer for the Bulldogs at Bellevue College.
It was while taking classes at Bellevue and working at Goodyear as a mechanic that a mutual friend, Robyn Vaccaro, encouraged Nick and Alyssa to meet. After months of insistence, the two finally decided to grab coffee. Neither of them ever thought they’d find themselves on a blind date. But, that was what happened July of 2007. Almost immediately, the couple became inseparable best friends and by January of 2008, they were engaged.
On August 16, 2008, Nick and Alyssa were married at then Lakeside Community Church (now Lifepoint) in Lake Stevens by Pastor Eric Spanglor. Their commitment was to keep the Lord at the center of their marriage from the very beginning. Nick easily filled the role of loving husband for his young wife. And he quickly became family to Alyssa’s parents, James and Debbie, and siblings as well. His calm loving presence was ever helpful to sister in law Kinslee and brother in law Jordan.
The first years of marriage were bliss as the couple attending church together and spending a lot of time with loved family and friends. Nick truly loved his time outdoors, and often would go hiking, fishing and camping with his Dad and sometimes Alyssa or other friends and family would tag along. In February of 2011, the couple bought a house together and started looking forward to starting a family. Everyone was healthy and happy, both Nick and Alyssa had jobs that they thoroughly enjoyed and things seemed to be looking way up as they celebrated their third wedding anniversary.
Diagnosis: Cancer at 25
In October of 2011, Nick started to experience a sharp pain in his abdomen while working as a service advisor at Lexus of Bellevue. Never one to let anyone down, he continued about his day. But, the next day the pain intensified and Alyssa insisted that he go see a doctor. After many tests and almost a week at Evergreen hospital, an exploratory surgery revealed a massive tumor in his lower abdomen that had originated in his appendix. He was diagnosed with a rare form of Appendix Cancer called Mucinous Adenocarcinoma. Alyssa quickly learned that this one in a million cancer was going to be difficult to treat. After meeting with doctors at the best Cancer Centers in Seattle and being told that they must travel for treatment, Nick and Alyssa bravely hopped on a plane and toured the country to find someone who could help.
Remission & Hope
After much prayer and research and amazing financial and emotional support from the community, Nick underwent a 7 and a half hour heated chemotherapy surgery with one of the best Appendix Cancer specialists, Dr, Brian Loggie in Omaha, Nebraska on the day before Thanksgiving 2011. The surgery was successful and, though the cancer was expected to return eventually because some cells were likely left behind, the prognosis was very good.
2012 started out a bit slow with Nick recovering from such a massive surgery, but eventually the couple found themselves back to almost normal. In July, Nick and Alyssa found out that they were pregnant. Nick cried when he saw the pregnancy test – being a dad was all he ever wanted! They could barely hold it in and announced to the world the news of their coming little one. They couldn’t have been more excited!
Alyssa and Nick traveled back to Omaha every six months for scans and when Nick started to experience pain again that late September, they both feared something was wrong. Sure enough, when they went in on October sixth, the doctors found that Nick’s cancer had returned with an unexpected vengeance. It had spread throughout his entire abdomen pushing on all of his organs and causing much damage. Surgery wasn’t an option unless they could shrink the tumors.
Nick and Alyssa came back to Seattle and at 15 weeks pregnant started the long journey of systemic chemotherapy treatments. The treatments were hard and not expected to cure him, making them all the more difficult. The hope was to get him to another surgery. It was the only chance to possibly eradicate all of the cells.
Austyn was born on the morning of March 26th. Nick was elated and as happy as can be. Five days later, he went through another grueling chemo treatment that took him over 9 days to recover from fully. After much prayer and consideration, Nick decided to stop chemo treatments and try some alternative naturopathic treatments. When those proved unsuccessful, they travelled yet again to speak with Appendix Cancer specialists and finally convinced Dr Loggie to try one more surgery. The pre-surgery scans showed less cancer than before. Hope for removal of all cancerous tissue was dashed though when just an hour into surgery, Alyssa was told that the cancer had spread undetected by the scan. The mucinous tumors were everywhere, extensive and they would only be able to remove a small portion.
Alyssa and Nick went home shortly after surgery. Nick’s intent was to live as long as possible and see as many firsts as he could in his precious daughters’s life. He underwent 7 more chemo treatments before the tumors grew resistant and the side effects proved to be too much.
Throughout all of these treatments, surgeries, and pain-filled days, Nick maintained an amazing outlook on life. He spent every second possible with Alyssa and Austyn, enjoying as much as he could. Nick and Alyssa took Austyn to the zoo, to the aquarium, celebrated Alyssa’s 26th birthday, Nick’s 27th birthday, Austyn’s first Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nick’s smile and encouraging words remained constant until the end. He and Alyssa maintained a blog throughout their cancer journey, bringing hope to whoever took the time to read.
We Won (read my explanation of this statement in the blog post titled “We Won.”)
A week before he went home to be with Jesus, he was able to tell each of his family members that he was ready to go. That he was excited to see the place that had been prepared for him and that we shouldn’t be sad for him because he would be fine.
Nick went to be with Jesus on Tuesday January 7th, 2014. He passed peacefully at home at 4:50am with his wife and father holding his hands.
Anyone who knew Nick will remember him for his infectious smile, generous heart, loving compassion and sound belief in his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I plan to continue to update this blog as I work through the loss of my husband and best friend. God’s got this and me and my little girl are in good hands…
Want to know more? Start with these Blog Posts. Most recent are at the top.
Easter Means More Now
Nick’s Greatest Wish: Share the Joy
As Told By Nick
Just Can’t Believe It… Cancer is Back
The Dirty Little Details of Nick’s HIPEC Surgery Adventure
Doing Things Young… We’re Going to Kick the C-Word’s Butt