Tom Tolleson was a sixty (60) year-old Texan and former president of a
decal manufacturing company who in 1996 was diagnosed with peritoneal
mesothelioma. Tom and Julie had been married for nine (9) years. At the
time of the diagnosis, their daughter was six (6) years-old.
In January of 1996, Tom went to the emergency room at the Baylor Medical
Center in Waxahachie, Texas, with a four day history of nausea, vomiting,
and diarrhea. Doctors discovered a ruptured colon. During a laparotomy,
they found a 5 cm. pelvic mass. Biopsies led to the diagnosis of peritoneal
mesothelioma, epithelial type. The dread words "cancer" and
"fatal" shocked Tom and Julie.
Tom's doctor referred him to a local oncologist, who did not recommend
any treatment options.
Julie then went directly to the Internet and researched as much as she
could. She read about the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Medical Center
in Houston, Texas. The Tollesons soon met with an oncologist there. Unfortunately,
this oncologist also told the Tolleson's that there was nothing they
could do; the cancer was fast-moving and would kill Tom within five to
six months. Tom said the only thing the doctors offered was to "keep
an eye on it." ("Keep an eye on it?" What if you were being
attacked by a grizzly, and the game warden's solution was to "keep
an eye on it"???). The Tollesons refused to give up.
Julie Tolleson hit the books again, researching homeopathic treatments.
Tom thrived on the fruit of this research. For the next thirty-nine (39)
months, Tom "juiced" and took vitamins, minerals, and herbs.
He consumed up to seventy-nine pills a day. Tom did not return for a check-up
after 1996. The Tollesons believed that homeopathy and prayer kept them
together longer than chemotherapy or radiation ever could have.
A lover of life and a hard worker, Tom had always been 'hands-on'
on the job and the first one to work. Mesothelioma could not stop Tom
Tolleson; it just slowed him down. "I've always been an early
riser and I've got an automatic clock inside me that says get up at
6:00. And that's the way I've always done. Regardless if I do
anything or not, I get up at 6:00."
Before Tom got sick, Tom loved golfing, hunting, fishing and coaching pee-wee
football: "Just about anything you can name in sports, I was involved
in." Tom's mesothelioma cut short these passions, and cast darkness
on the light of his life: "I'm scared . . . I worry about dying.
I worry about dying before my little girl grows up. I think about it all
the time. Every little tick that I have that I don't recognize, I
always wonder, is this sudden death overtime now or what?"
Tom's daughter realized that her Daddy was slowing down. According
to Tom, "She has said that I don't do much with her. And she's
asked to go fishing and I'm afraid to go because I don't know
if something would happen while I'm there that a young girl couldn't
handle, so I don't go."
On March 3, 1999, Tom's battle ended. He fought his mesothelioma for
over three (3) years, outliving all the grim predictions given by his
doctors. We salute his valor. This man was not a "taker." He
was a "giver". We need more Tom Tollesons in this world.
*** POSTED JUNE 22, 1999 ***