Finding My Banana Bread Man      He continues to provide me with "Memories of Green", and he will always be my "Soft Place to Land."

Here you'll find answers to the most common questions about my book.

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: There were multiple reasons for writing this book. Those reasons were:

  • To provide a living legacy (a written history) of Jack. He was definitely a personality worth remembering. This book does that.
  • To provide a means to heal myself — which it has most successfully accomplished.
  • To allow other grieving souls a blue print as to how to grieve. We American males have so much to learn about how to grieve.
  • To highlight the fact that anger, denial, fear and pain, as well as hope, joy, laughter, progression, and ultimately acceptance are equal partners in the dying and grieving process.
  • To foster the ideals of healing by using the gift of recall — and remembering -as opposed to "letting go", "burying the past" and "running from a loss."
  • To provide documented evidence of the tragic events that unfolded in Jack's and my life — and to show that in spite of it all neither Jack nor I were victims of what happened but rather victors when all was said and done.
  • To provide, as best I can, my indignation over the lack of funding for the type of cancer that took Jack from me, and to point out elements of hospital misjudgments that made his journey and mine almost unbearable at times.
  • Lastly — but most importantly — to provide Jack's grandchildren with an unbelievable image of their heritage and the man Madison (Jack's oldest granddaughter) once called Papa Jack. This book is eventually the ultimate living legacy for his grandchildren. When all is said and done — there is no better way I could have spent the last few years — than to provide this glimpse at the true essence of the man who was Tom's father for 35 years, my mate for 27, and Papa Jack for far too few.

Jack, 55 years old, and Madison - Jack's personal ray of sunshine - 4 years old, on October 2, 2004, the day he received his diagnosis. Madison always glowed for Jack. Click on the picture above (or here) to hear an old Irish Blessing - and what would be Jack's hope for Madison and Mia as they grow.

Q: Would you tell me something about brain cancer and how it effected your life and the life of your mate?

A: Following is an excerpt from the book which details the effect brain cancer had on our lives.

Everything that could have been surgically done for Jack was indeed done; his surgeon and bantering partner, Dr. Peter Nakaji—a magnificent doctor, who's on the leading edge of brain tumor treatment—saw to it. His mentor, Dr. Charles Teo (from Austria), has been quoted as saying: "We do not keep brain tumor patients alive any longer than we did 50 years ago. If you've got a malignant brain tumor in an adult, then it's 100 percent mortality. Even though it ranks only about No.9 in incidence, it's the third most important cancer in terms of impact on society. It affects people in the prime of their life, it debilitates them so they are taken out of the workforce and it kills them at an early age."

I am—and always have been—grateful for the magnificent surgical abilities of Dr. Nakaji. Because of him, I feel Jack was given the best possible chance, surgically speaking. (The inattentive hospital care he received after his surgeries and his episode of being inappropriately released from the emergency room are examples of what must change in hospitals.)

In her book Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Neurosurgeon Katrina Firlik, says: "Some neurosurgeons dedicate their careers to these tumors, looking for alternative strategies to outwit them. Their work has led to some creative options, such as thin wafers of chemotherapy that can be left along the edges of the brain where the tumor was removed. [Doctors put "Gliadel" wafers in Jack.] Logic might dictate that this should greatly prolong the time to recurrence, but the results have been less than stellar. Clearly, a breakthrough solution will have to be radically different from the options we have now, and it's probably not going to involve surgery."

Firlik also states about brain cancer: "It is a random, unlucky, biological occurrence. As with a deadly hurricane, nature is often both powerful and indifferent." This certainly was a random, unlucky, and biological occurrence for Jack, and that was how his doctors described what was happening to him. No one knew where it came from, and it had no cause that could be related specifically to Jack. He and I wondered if there could be a link to vinyl chloride—a product in hairspray that Jack would have definitely used prior to its removal from the market in 1974. There's research that shows beauticians have been affected by exposure to it.

We asked if this caused the tumor, but no doctor was willing to state that as a possible connection. (I'm sure that even if they suspected this to be the culprit, they would never make what could be perceived as a libelous statement.) The only explanation I've garnered from the medical community is that his tumor was the result of chromosomes—in Jack's case, chromosomes 19 and 20—gone mad.

Was his cancer, as Firlik says, "indifferent"? Yes, indifferent as to whom it picked as a victim. Its choices have no rhyme or reason. Jack was a perfectly healthy man who took extremely good care of himself, better care than anyone I know, he learned that alcohol did not agree with his system. (He was what would be termed a "cheap date," because it took little to make him tipsy.)

Was the cancer powerful? Oh my, yes, like nothing I have ever seen. This disease literally strips away mental pieces of who you are. It affected the movement in Jack's left side (he lost his sight, but I personally don't attribute this to cancer, but instead to hospital malfeasance). It played games with Jack's cognitive skills; it enjoyed jerking them away from him so he had to struggle to get them back. His brain was being assaulted and literally destroyed by elusive pieces of cancer that had scattered and hid in his brain.

I think the battle between man and brain cancer could be recorded in a best seller thriller, or a screenplay. It's real life played out before your eyes, and none of it is pretty, but it's worth learning about because then you bear witness to the fact that brain tumors randomly attack. Getting one is unlucky, biological, and powerful.

Of course, I appreciate the hard work surgeons are doing to fight brain tumors, but I get angry when I see that treatment hasn't advanced much over the last 50 years, and that the survival rate hasn't improved since the 1950s. How can the most powerful country on earth make zero progress. Is that possible? What a shameful medical legacy.

Apparently brain cancer isn't a popular cancer, so funding research isn't important. Apparently, it hasn't killed people with high enough profiles; attorney Johnny Cochran; and Tug McGraw, the father of country singer Tim McGraw; and even Gene Siskel, of "Siskel and Ebert," don't rank high enough, so I'm not sure what it will take to get the attention of "funding gurus," so they'll raise money to battle the scourge of brain cancer. How many more people will have to lose their own Jack before our political leaders say it's too many?

I am angry Jack was taken from his family, friends, and me. And I hope by writing this book I will, in some small way, light a fire under some key people. He may only be one fatality among many, and I may be only one small voice, but I intend to do what I can to raise awareness of the pain and suffering this brutal cancer causes.

To learn more about Dr. Charles Teo and Dr. Peter Nakaji, go to ...

To learn about Dr. Charles Teo's work, go to ...

To learn more about Dr. Katrina Firlik, go to ...

For general support regarding brain cancer and additional information on how to support those fighting this deadly disease go to the following two web sites and read the stories of two individuals who somehow beat the odds of level III and Level IV brain cancer — go to ... and

: Share with me others' words that helped you transcend grief?

A: Sometimes my grief went beyond my words; at those times it was helpful to read other people's words. This led me to collect quotes. Some people collect them in a scrapbook, box, journal, or jar, and then, from time to time, randomly pick one to look at.

"Things have a terrible permanence when people die." Joyce Kilmer

"All the photographs were peeling
And colors turned to gray
He stayed in his room with memories for days
He faced an undertow of futures laid to waste
Embraced by the loss of what he could not replace" Eddie Vedder — "Sad"

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want, more than all the world, your return." Mary Jean Irion

"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling into at night. I miss you like hell." Edna St. Vincent Millay

"Life begins on the other side of despair." Jean-Paul Sartre

"God gave us memories that we might have roses in December." James M. Barrie

''Beauty that dies the soonest has the longest life. Because it cannot keep itself for a day, we keep it forever. Because it can have existence only in memory, we give it immortality there." Bertha Damon

"When it is dark enough you can see the stars." Charles A. Beard

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahil Gibran

"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." Aeschylus

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops at all." Emily Dickinson

"His noble face is more alive to me now than any of the faces of the living, and in his eyes I always see that light of transcendent wisdom and transcendent compassion that no power in heaven or earth can put out." Sogyal Rinpoche

"I've been fortunate enough to borrow from everyone else's experience. I've seen people in every state of neurological decline and I've seen death, over and over again. And this makes me feel lucky about life, every day."

"As I think about this, I have to admit that my appreciation for the everyday
has become a well-entrenched part of me now. I probably don't need
constant reinforcement." Katrina Firlik — Neurosurgeon

"When the rain washes you clean you'll know. You will know." Stevie Nicks — "Dreams"

"The only truly dead are those who have been forgotten." Jewish Saying