Rosemary and Vincent Napoli
In mid March of 1997, Mr. Vincent "Nap" Napoli was beginning
to think that his persistent cough was more than a virus. One morning
he woke up with a terrible pain shooting from his left side. He set up
an appointment with his family physician, who ordered chest films and
discovered a huge left pleural effusion filling up approximately two thirds
of his left hemithorax. The doctor advised Mr. Napoli that the fluid needed
to be drained "immediately." A thoracentesis was performed at
the Columbia Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The pathology of
the fluid (cytology) was negative.
Two days later, the fluid reaccumulated. Mr. Napoli was again acutely short
of breath. Another thoracentesis was performed. Pathologists with the
Pathology Group of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, examined the fluid and found
atypical cells suspicious for malignancy. The doctors recommended that
a biopsy be performed in order to obtain tissue and possible tumor.
On April 4, 1997, Mr. Napoli underwent a bronchoscopy with bronchial brushings
at the Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center. Pathologists at Our Lady found
the washings to be negative for malignant cells. Mr. Napoli was then referred
to a surgeon with CVT Medical Care in Baton Rouge. After reviewing the
chest films and pathology reports, they recommended that Mr. Napoli be
admitted for a left thoracoscopy, drainage of pleural fluid and biopsy
of the pleura. These procedures were performed along with a talc pleurodesis
on April 25, 1997. The pathologists removed the tissue biopsies and diagnosed
malignant mesothelioma. The doctors advised that they could only offer palliative treatment for
The Napolis, who have raised six children, including a doctor, a few engineers
and a lawyer, set out to find their own treatment options. They heard
about M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas, but on investigation learned that
this prestigious hospital had discontinued their surgery protocol for
mesotheliotics. Mr. Napoli was always very clear about his objectives.
He understood that any treatments would include pain. "I can live
with pain, but I just want to live, the Lord willing." The Napolis
continued to research their options.
The Napolis considered the Immuno-Augmentative Clinic (IAT) in the Bahamas,
which offers a serum treatment that is not approved by the FDA. They decided
that the IAT clinic's protocol was a little too experimental and the
Bahamas were too far from home and family.
The Napolis also considered participating in the Immunotherapy Protocol
in Baton Rouge with Dr. James McCoy, Ph.D., of Immunocomp Laboratory.
But Dr. McCoy left Baton Rouge before they could make a decision.
The Napolis then happened upon a purported doctor who as it turns out had
a very checkered history. Although very likeable and compassionate, this
"doctor" had apparently been arrested and convicted in Brownsville,
Texas for the unauthorized practice of medicine. Upon release from prison,
he returned to Baton Rouge and again began offering "anti-cancer"
injections to cancer patients, including Mr. Napoli. The "doctor"
was eventually arrested again in Baton Rouge. Nap bears no ill will against
this unorthodox "medicine man", who offered treatments to patients
who could not afford to pay for free.
Today, Mr. Napoli is taking vitamins, watching his diet, trying to exercise
as often as he can (he enjoys riding his bicycle), and he attends mass
After working as a pipefitter in the petrochemical industry, Mr. Napoli
started his own auto parts store. His business grew and grew into a multi-million
dollar concern. In 1993, Mr. Napoli deeded the store over to his son and
retired. His retirement lasted all of two (2) months. "I had to come
back," he mused. "Retirement almost killed me." The challenges
and rewards of business were still in his blood. After purchasing a 100
acre farm in Jackson, Louisiana, and with the assistance of the Future
Farmer students of LSU, he planted 4500 pecan trees and several hundred
A few years ago, Mr. Napoli's entrepreneurial spirit was again summoned.
He decided to own and operate the Nap Company, which sells lumber and
roofing supplies in Baton Rouge. The Nap Company proved to be very profitable
for the Napoli's. To an outsider, it looked like Nap had the golden
touch. But he knew that his success was the result of hard work, discipline,
planning and sound judgment.
Nap married Rosemary forty-eight (48) years ago. They are the proud parents
of six successful children and the grandparents of fourteen (14) children.
Nap and Rosemary have been very generous with supporting their children's
college education. "I never finished my college education. I couldn't
afford it. It didn't exactly handicap me as a businessman. But a college
education improves your chances. I don't believe in spoon-feeding
my children. But I wanted them to have more opportunities than I had."
He talks proudly of his children that he put through private school and
through college. "I kept the hammer down."
Nap and Rosemary are deeply religious people who believe in miracles. "My
husband is driven. He doesn't sulk. He takes the bull by the horns."
Why does he remain so strong and cheerful in the face of so much darkness?
According to Nap: "I have never run from anything in my life. I have
faced hardships. I have built several successful businesses. I've
been down, but I've always gotten up. So I'm ready for this."
Vincent Napoli is a eucharistic minister at his church. He takes communion
every morning. "If the Lord wants me now, I am ready to go. In the
meantime, I have work to do."
POSTED MAY 15, 1998
Fifteen months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, Nap's battle
ended. On August 11, 1998, he passed away. He was a man of great discipline,
great pride and immense faith. His strength came from his family, his
community and his church.
His first order of business was always how everyone else was feeling, the
last being how he felt. A representative of my office recently underwent
hip surgery, and whenever he spoke to Nap, before he could utter a word,
Nap would ask him (between gasps of air) how he was doing, "How's
the hip? Don't worry, you'll be up and around in no time."
When finally asked how he was doing, his reply was always "I'm
all right, I might be dwindling but whatever, I'll make it. Now, what
can I do for you?"
It was always that way with Nap "
What can I do for you" should have been his motto. When his local priest came to anoint
him, to deliver last rites, Nap thanked him for coming and asked the father
if he could get him any water.
At his service, you could tell that Nap chose the Holy readings. They spoke
of the discipline needed in raising children, how the family must be kept
strong and together as one. They also spoke of how one should keep their
wealth in their heart, not in their closet with fancy clothes, jewelry
and such. Days before he took a turn for the worse, Nap was still working,
closing deals on the telephone.
Some of his many grandchildren served as pall bearers. Strong proud children,
carrying on the same firm beliefs and traditions as their grandfather.
Vincent Augustus Napoli, a family man, an unselfish man, a firm and loving
father, and a proud Italian.
POSTED AUGUST 13, 1998