Surrounded by family, colleagues, good friends, and members of the public, author Tom Walsh held his first book signing in Sapulpa First United Bank on Friday.
Streamed live on Facebook by Sapulpa Times, Walsh discussed his reasons for writing the book and introduced the loved ones who helped him and his family survive his son Isaac’s epic and almost fatal battle with brain cancer 10 years ago.
Walsh said that his reason for writing the book was twofold: “I wanted to share my family’s story of hope and healing to inspire others going through this to find their way to hope and healing,” he said.
Secondly, he said he simply “wanted to raise awareness of pediatric cancer” and how quickly yet insidiously it can appear in a healthy and active child.
Walsh invited some of the family’s dearest friends to speak at the event, including local dentist Dr. Richard Pitts and his wife, Janet. The Pitts family played a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of the family, keeping younger son Caleb while Tom, Dacia, and Isaac spent 10 excruciating months in Memphis at St. Jude Children’s Hospital for Isaac’s treatment.
Pastor Jon Greer, from Sapulpa’s First Church of God, spoke about the importance of kids having someone they trust in whom they can confide, because most, like Isaac, either can’t or won’t expose their vulnerabilities and darkest thoughts with doctors, parents, or counselors.
Isaac himself, seated between his father and Greer, discussed the aftermath of treatment—the miraculous survival of a life-threatening illness that came so close to snatching life from him, so many times, only to return to “normalcy” of school, where no one understands what he has faced or experienced, but rather jeers at his scars and other physical changes wrought by treatment. It was a peculiar sort of homesickness—he felt like a “stranger in a familiar place.”
He said that although teachers and parents clearly made attempts to urge his fellow students to treat him with kid gloves, it was equally as clear that many who spoke to him didn’t do so out of an authentic, compassionate place, but rather a misguided and disingenuous one borne out of pity and ignorance.
Isaac spoke about having suicidal thoughts and his incredible realization that the aftermath of survival was in many ways more agonizing than the painful and terrifying treatment itself. Ultimately, he persevered. Due to his own internal strength and the friendship of those such as Greer, Isaac began to love life again and to be appreciative of his second (and third and fourth…) chance at it.
The amazing story and heart-wrenching book, When Hope Overcame the Impossible—An inspirational true story of a 13-year-old child’s battle to overcome the carnage of brain cancer, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walsh’s website, thomasmwalsh.com.