Tommy was a bright young man, attending Rutgers University and studying Computer Science. He was compassionate, light-hearted and always seemed to have a smile on his face in spite of everything that life threw at him.
He loved being with his family and friends. His mom was his confidant, sharing stories and secrets. They would sit outside after dinner for hours and just talk.
He found a strong relationship with his brother Jack. In the early days, they would bicker, as brothers do, but they both outgrew this and came to realize how important they were to each other.
He helped so many friends get through their "tough" times with advice or just to lend an ear to listen to them. It was during his last days, through texts and emails from those same friends, that we truly came to understand what kind of a man Tommy had grown into.
Tommy loved his art and playing basketball or fishing with his friends. You could always catch him watching The Office, South Park or some stand-up video. He simply enjoyed laughing.
We can truly say that Tommy had grown into a wonderful man with so much promise, before he was taken from us.
Drawn by Andrew Frumento
Tommy was born on February 20, 1997. He started his life in a complicated manner and was diagnosed with kidney reflux in utero. He underwent surgery at 3 months old to correct this. The operation was successful, but he was administered antibiotics at a very young age, of course, to manage infection from the surgery. We believe this made him susceptible to Crohn's Disease, as long term use of antibiotics is one known possible cause.
Tommy was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn's Disease at age 9. He was administered 6-Mercaptopurine (6MP) which kept his Crohn's Disease in remission through the years. Tommy had to be careful of his diet and had blood tests every 6 month.
In June, 2017, his blood work came back with a decline in his white blood cell count. This is a known potential side effect of using 6MP. Over the course of the next six months, he underwent a number of tests to try to determine the cause.
He began to show symptoms and thus began the next 3 months of hospital stays and visits to the emergency room. After being hospitalized on Christmas Eve, 2017, he was finally diagnosed with Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma (HSTCL) on the day before his 21st birthday, February 19, 2018.
Tommy underwent chemo-therapy, radiation therapy and finally received a Bone Marrow transplant in March, 2018. Initially, he responded well to the treatment and is released from the hospital in April, 2018.
By July, 2018, his latest blood work shows that HSTCL has returned. He is sent to a specialist and is placed on a trial drug. Due to other complications, he is not able to stay on the drug and is hospitalized again several times in August and September, 2018 with related illnesses.
Finally, in September, 2018, he falls into a coma from complications related to a biopsy. Following 3 weeks in MICU, our son Tommy succumbs to his illness on October 8, 2018 at age 21.
Tommy spent his life suffering from sicknesses that are clouded in lack of knowledge regarding any form of a cure. Now we're making it our mission to clear the air on Crohn's Disease and Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma, as well as promote the increasingly beneficial registry of Bone Marrow Donors.
Painted by Colee Bellmay
Tommy and Jesse
One of Tommy's greatest talents was his ability to create fantastic music. Tommy had played instruments from a young age and created an impressive body of music throughout his life. Alongside his guitar playing was Tommy's ability to play the drums, bass and piano as well. The video listed is a short compilation of some of his best guitar work.
Much like anyone who suffers an untimely death to cancer, there was much more to Tommy than meets the eye. He wasn't just a college kid studying computer science at a state university. Tommy's list of hobbies included playing the aforementioned four instruments of guitar, bass, drums and piano, as well as plenty of creations through graphic design, sketching and engineering. Tommy wasn't only full of smiles, but also full of creativity and intuition.
These are just a few of the things Tommy loved to spend time doing. Because of his illnesses, we were robbed of all the artistic creations Tommy hadn't made yet. Part of our mission now is to ensure no family will ever have to wonder what their child could've done had they survived a vicious illness.