A Lynbrook man, who was newly engaged and in the NYPD police academy, lost his battle with leukemia, his fiancee said.
Jake Siciliano, 23, died Tuesday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, Siciliano’s fiancee, Ashlee Ragusano, said.
The NYPD recruit, who Ragusano described as “funny, caring and dedicated to his friends and family,” had just fulfilled his dream of joining the force. He was set to graduate from the police academy in December, according to the NYPD.
He proposed to his longtime girlfriend in October, and the two were in the middle of furnishing their new apartment when Siciliano was diagnosed with cancer less than a month ago.
“It came as a complete shock,” Ragusano said.
She said that before the diagnosis, Siciliano was active and had played lacrosse for Nassau Community College.
The couple were introduced through mutual friends and first met 3 1⁄2 years ago on the docks in Woodmere, Ragusano said. She found him warm, easy to talk to and “incredibly handsome.”
“We just clicked,” she said.
On Oct. 1, Siciliano proposed to Ragusano in her childhood bedroom. They spent that same day shopping for couches, a dining room table and the bedroom set that would fill their new three-bedroom apartment in Valley Stream. Ragusano said they were in a rush to start their new life together.
“We were all ecstatic,” Ragusano said.
About two weeks later, Siciliano became nauseated while at the academy. Ragusano was alarmed because her fiancee was hardly ever sick. She rushed him to the hospital, where doctors later determined Siciliano had leukemia and a rare disease that impairs the body’s immune system called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH.
Siciliano began treatment immediately and Ragusano was convinced that he would pull through.
A GoFundMe page was created Oct. 23 to support Siciliano and his family while the cadet underwent treatment; it has since raised nearly $21,000.
“He’s a fighter, the strongest person I’ve ever met, but because of his immune system, it was like he was fighting but his body couldn’t,” Ragusano said.
Siciliano remained positive in his last few weeks, Ragusano said. They continued to shop for furniture together and would take long road trips, singing to country music in their Jeep.
“I love him so much, and I know he’ll be with me for the rest of my life,” Ragusano said.
A wake for Siciliano will be held at Perry Funeral Home in Lynbrook on Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. There will be a funeral Mass Friday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church in Hewlett.