Follow Peter’s Journey as he Battles Hearing Loss & Defeats Cancer
“I started to cry because he didn’t say to me, ‘Mommy, I hear better,’ he said, ‘Mommy, I feel better.’”
“My heart was crushed. I didn’t understand why this was happening to us.”
That was Zina LoDuca’s first thought when she found out her 3-year-old son, Peter, was going Deaf.
Zina mentally checked a long line of family history; no one had ever been Deaf before: Peter was the first. Zina didn’t know where to turn. The family pediatrician referred them to Mill Neck’s Early Childhood Center (ECC)—a school that helps 3 and 4 year olds with a wide range of special communication needs—where he was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss.
“I felt so nervous,” Zina remembers as tears roll down her cheeks. “My only comfort was that I knew Peter was in good hands with Mill Neck; they walked us through a very difficult time.”
Through Mill Neck Services Center for Hearing Health (formerly known as Mill Neck Audiology), Peter was fitted for hearing aids and Zina could instantly see a change in her little boy.
“I started to cry because he didn’t say to me, ‘Mommy, I hear better,’ he said, ‘Mommy, I feel better.'”
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Mill Neck’s help,” Peter says. “They’ve been by my side through everything. Now, they’re family.”
Peter progressed beautifully at the ECC and after graduating he was able to attend a mainstream school.
As the years went on, Peter enjoyed his academics and found his niche on the baseball field.
Unfortunately, that didn’t stop him from being physically and mentally bullied every day because of his disability.
“People didn’t see me; all they saw was my hearing aids,” he says with a lump in his throat. “They would play with my hearing aids and switch them on and off. For so long, I have battled and it’s engrained so deep in me. But I’m proud of who I am now.”
With the help of Mill Neck, Peter took this life-altering obstacle in stride. But it wasn’t long before he would come face-to-face with another one. And this time, it was a matter of life and death.
Peter was 12 years old when a CAT scan revealed a diagnosis that turned his world upside down, again: Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer.
When Marianne Artinian—a longtime employee for Mill Neck Services Center for Hearing Health and, now, a close friend of the LoDuca family—heard the news, she visited the hospital right away.
“I was so relieved when Marianne came to see us,” Zina says. “She brought her son with her who was a cancer survivor and said, ‘Look at my son; he’s fine. This will be Peter soon, too; don’t you worry.’”
The only way Peter knew how to handle this unfathomable situation was to focus on recovering with enough time to get back on the baseball field for the spring season. During this time, he connected with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and fulfilled his dream of catching the opening pitch from former New York Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca (no relation).
With a new outlook on life, Peter excelled in school is now studying Sports Management at Farmingdale State College on Long Island.
Join us in our mission to give individuals like Peter the support and resources they need to overcome life’s obstacles by making a contribution.
I thank you in advance for your generosity and wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a healthy joyous New Year.
Michael F. Killian
President and CEO