We’ve enjoyed meeting many wonderful people through Breadtopia over the past several years. I think there’s something fundamentally special about people who bake bread. Wouldn’t you agree? Tomasso Maimone is definitely one of those special individuals.
When I first met Tomasso last year, I learned a little about his health condition. It sounded bleak to say the least. So I was thrilled just to hear his voice earlier this year when he called with a question. Most people wouldn’t have beaten the odds as Tomasso has done. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind sharing a bit of his story as I was sure our readers would love to hear it. Here’s his story…
I’d like to share with you and your network of family, friends and your client base which may span around the globe, what the staff of life has meant and continues to do for me.
May I share with everyone what an amazing family and friends that I’ve been blessed with. Their support, love and relentless commitment helped me through the most difficult and challenging times of my life where I was battling liver cancer 24/7. Especially Dianne my best friend, lover, life partner and fiancé. Our two sons Vincent and Nicholas and their mom Melody, my ex wife of 32 years was there for me. They are the strongest part of my survival team and support group. It takes so much help to overcome. Also, Tony and Mario and the entire Procope family, the Phillips Mushroom family and Kevin Donovan, Herta Ginsburg and Jess Meany, all of whom gave me incredible support, compassion and nourished me on a daily basis. These are a few of my angels; I pray Our Lord smiles on all of you and please remain a part of my family and dear friends forever.
From the beginning, upon meeting Joan Tannebaum and my transplant coordinators, Ursula Hobbs and Karen Pine, we were confident and comfortable in knowing that her and the team would navigate us from the beginning to the end and beyond.
I was on the liver transplant list for just over a year and had over 100 professionals seeing that I received the best of care from an elite and experienced health care team at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, the place where liver transplants were pioneered by most of these doctors in the early 80’s. The amazing thing is that in spite of what most of us think of as tools to combat cancer, such as chemo therapy, chemo embolizations, chemo oblations, radical surgical procedures and many other approaches, is how you go to war with cancer and into battle to fight this enemy of human life. It’s true, and I went through most of the above.
However, the most effective power that each of us possess is brain power and the will to live. Our minds are the strongest of any other source and that is where the most important strength arrived from, helping me survive the beast we know as cancer. Let me share that with that strength, my approach was to live everyday every possible way and spend the time with my family and friends. Spending time with young people as often as possible (under 7) and seniors over 70, we have so much to learn from them. Sharing your life with others is what it’s all about. Nourishing one another with love and affection and sharing what is most important.
I realized how important the family dinners were and are to all of us as I found myself in our kitchen longing to smell the nuances, aromas and the wonderful bouquet of my fresh dough baking in the oven. There was a very sense of the life and happiness that the nourishment of bread means to all of us. It truly kept me going from minute to minute and hour to hour and day by day. I loved and looked forward to seeing the beam of excitement and gratefulness when giving a 4 Lb loaf of delicious crusty bread. Most were amazed by the gift and by the quality of the bread itself. Some loafs were 25-26 inches long and some were the size of a infant. I loved the feeling that it truly made someone that happy and gave them the sense of the way I felt about them and what they meant to me. There is something special about the magic we create in our homes and in our ovens and it gave me meaning and purpose to fight another day to be able to share my talents even though I was nearing death and the end of my life if I didn’t receive a liver donor soon.
I baked for Dianne, our sons and children, our family, my friends and Pastor and church. It’s crazy to think that just four days before I received a call from my surgeon, Dr. Cataldo Doria, that they located a very good liver donor for me, I baked four 4 Lb loafs and drove them 42 miles to Thomas Jefferson and delivered then to each of the surgeons on the team. I thought that may be my last trip and chance to show my appreciation and thank them for all they had done for me.
Honestly, my body had crashed and died 3 weeks before and at that point in time I was surviving on sheer brain power and knowing I still had many more loaves of bread to bake and people to thank and I did that one loaf at a time. That is just a small slice of what The Staff Of Life has meant to me.
On December 15th 2011 I was admitted into TJUH and received a liver transplant. I thank God for his blessing, my donor and the family of for the gift to continue to live and Dianne, my Family and friends And a special thank you to my doctors and their staff, Dr. Conn, Dr. Herrine and his nurse practitioner Robin Miller and Luis and Gabby, Dr. Brown and Laura Pino and their entire unit, Dr. Langan, the surgeons Dr. Doria, Dr. Maley, Dr. Ramirez, Dr. Frank, Roberto and Tanya and the entire transplant team at TJUH for all their care and dedication towards my recovery, without you, I would not have survived this disease. Thank you for your dedication and commitment, I’ll bake and give back to you for as long as I’m able.
I left the hospital 6 days after my transplant and was home for Christmas. On December 23, I was scheduled for an MRI to monitor the cancerous tumors in my liver. If any tumor should reach a size of 5 cm, the patient is automatically taken off the transplant list and turned over to hospice, because the risk of spreading outside the liver increases dramatically. Three weeks after the transplant we received the pathology report and learned that the largest tumor had reached 5 cm. I am happy to say that my latest MRI, CAT scan and blood work all show that I am cancer free. I’m still slowly recovering and baking most everyday and exploring sourdough starters and learning more everyday, though I need to read some more and learn a bunch of stuff about the starters that are growing in our fridge. However, I’m patient knowing the answers will be sure to come.
The Staff of Life is Mighty Powerful
Thank you Denyce & Eric for all of your help and support