Local family committed to changing youth cancer survival rates in honor of son

Local family committed to changing youth cancer survival rates in honor of son

LYNNFIELD, Mass. — A Lynnfield family is preparing for their annual bike ride in their son's honor who died of cancer when he was just 20 years old.

People deal with loss in different ways. For the Sacco family, there was no option but to help other young adults with bright futures ahead of them, like their son. They say he would have expected it.

"I'll be honest. I really don't feel that we're even close to where we need to be for Reid to really be proud," said Lorraine Sacco.

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Reid Sacco always had high expectations. He was accepted into Boston University in the fifth-grade. An accomplished violinist, sailor, and national swimmer, he was poised to study biochemical engineering at Columbia University, but two months before he graduated from Lynnfield High School in 2003, he noticed a lump in his leg.

"So we went to our physician and he was misdiagnosed. Told us to ice it," said Lorraine.

"Most physicians don't believe that young adults and adolescents get cancer, so it's way down on their list of what it could be," said Gene Sacco.

Reid had an aggressive sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. Two years later, he passed away at the age of 2, but the Saccos picked themselves up and founded the Reid R. Sacco Adolescent and Young Adult Alliance.

"I think we've had an influence on medicine as a whole that this is a legitimate segment of the population that's being underserved," said Gene.

Through an annual bike ride and other fundraisers, they've raised close to $3 million and opened centers at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center and Connecticut Children's where teams of specialists are able to help this age group with everything from fighting cancer to post-cancer health and fertility issues.

They've also been successful in getting patients into promising clinical trials that they might have once been turned down for because of their age.

The Sacco family will never know what Reid might have accomplished as an adult, but they're grateful they're giving other young adults their chance.

"We really are going for the cure and we want every young adult that's diagnosed with cancer to live and survive and have children and families," said Lorraine.

The 15th annual Reid's Ride kicks off at Lynnfield High School on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. The ride ends at Stage Fort Park in Goucester.