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Unexpected obstacle derails mom

Published: Tue, January 10, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Jeanne Starmack



Jodi Coppola was like most other working mothers, dividing her life among her family, her interests and her job.

She and her boyfriend, Lou Vari, were busy raising four kids — daughter Kate, 8, who is adopted from Guatemala, and 7-year-old triplets Patrick, Carlina and Lily.

She had worked at the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in Youngstown for 15 years and had been a real-estate agent before that.

“I sold almost everyone in Lowellville a house,” said Coppola, 49, a lifelong resident of the village.

She had a favorite hobby — photography, which kept her busy taking photographs for friends and family.

“I do stuff for friends — a lot of communion pictures,” she said last week from her home on West Side Drive.

“I like to do boxing photos, of the amateur boxing they have around here,” she added.

She and Vari also liked to spend time with the kids.

“We like taking the kids places, like amusement parks,” she said. “We were always on the go.”

Her children are doing well in the Lowellville schools, with third-grader Kate a straight-A student, bragged Coppola’s mother, Carol Flora, a secretary at the village hall.

But in September, Coppola’s life jumped the tracks because of an unexpected obstacle.

“I wasn’t feeling good for a long time,” she said. In August, her gall bladder was removed.

“But I never got better,” she said. “It got worse and worse. I had CAT scans, and MRIs, and that’s when they found it.”

“It” is nondifferentiated cancer, which is in her lung, kidney and liver.

Doctors do not know the primary source of the cancer, she said, and are treating it with chemotherapy.

Meanwhile, Coppola can’t go to work. She hasn’t pursued her photography lately.

“I really haven’t had — I don’t want to say, ‘motivation,’ but I am really tired, she said. “And I can’t carry all the stuff.”

After her first chemotherapy treatment Dec. 23, she spent Christmas in the hospital.

“My white blood count went down very low, and I couldn’t fight off infections,” she said. She’s feeling better now, though she’s weak, she said.

Fortunately, doctors have given her reason to hope.

“They said that this kind of treatment is 90 percent successful with nondifferentiated cancer,” she said. “These kinds of cells respond good to chemotherapy.”

While Coppola recuperates from her illness, the Lowellville Police Association is stepping up to help her and her family with medical bills not covered by insurance and with living expenses.

There will be a spaghetti dinner from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Holy Rosary Educational Center in Lowellville, 219 E. Wood St., to raise money. Donations are set at $10 for adults and $5 for children age 5 to 12. Children under 5 eat free. Tickets are available from police officers and at the door.

For more information, call 330-536-6326.

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