HISTORY AND WELCOME!
I am going to begin the writing of this blog by honoring one of two of the cancer patients who have influenced me so greatly: Conradin Dobeli (of Switzerland) and Tom Marsilje.
Both young men have departed this life – sadly – but they left us after they had made a profound influence on me and my work with cancer patients.
Tom was the first of my “inspirers” that I met.
I was connected to Tom by another heroic patient who told me a little about him….and then she set up an online introduction. Tom – at the time – was being treated for advanced colorectal cancer. He was a scientist with a passion for discovering drugs that would cure cancer. In fact, on the very day that he has his lung cancer drug approved by the FDA, he had a colonoscopy. On that day of triumph and success, he also experienced the terrible news that he was, himself, a cancer patient.
Tom had devoted his life to the cure for cancer as a teenage. His mother had asked him for his help in finding a clinical trial for her (pancreatic?) cancer. After her death and his painful loss, Marsilje decided that he would dedicate his life to the defeat of cancer.
The cruel irony was that it took his mother’s experience to set him on his life’s purpose and pathway. And, irony piled upon irony, Tom’s own pathway was going to result in his own, tragic, death from cancer as well.
Tom and I connected, and we decided that we would together try to educate and steer more patients into appropriate clinical trials. By the time I met him, he had already established his presence in the online, blogging “universe”, and he was enormously busy and successful at reaching cancer patients worldwide.
He wrote a wonderful blog, and his blog was reaching tens of thousands of cancer patients, each of whom wished to have personal conversations with him. I was giving him a means by which he could communicate with more people on the same topic, but in a more time-efficient manner.
I merely suggested that I create a way for him to be able to reach and teach more patients in a private sub-group in the Colontown community (that I had created) and that I would set up and maintain for his work.
What I did not realize was that my connection to and budding friendship with Tom was going to set the path of my own trajectory in building helpful patient networks for cancer patients.
When the world lost Tom – on a sad day in 2017 – we who knew and revered him were deeply shocked.
You see, to know Tom was to feel that he was a Superman –he could beat this thing. Tom’s departure was one of the shocking experiences that I have ever had in my work. Everyone in “cancerland” reacted like I did: we were all in total disbelief.
I still cannot believe that he has left us.
But, wherever you are, Tom…..THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.
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