Sending Love Through The Galaxy – To Infinity And Beyond
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” ― Rabindranath Tagore
Forty-six years ago on this incredible day, the heavens sent Tom Marsilje III into this world. Did you know that Tom was a “III”?? – Defined: Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day, is a day when people exchange cards, gifts and signs of their love for each other. Tom Marsilje III seemed to choose every day of his life to exchange love – and for those of us fortunate recipients, we will forever be grateful.
Three shorts months ago, on Tuesday, November 14th at 12:15pm, the heavens called back Dr. Tom Marsilje to be reborn into the limitless galaxy. Per Tom’s direct specifications, he asked Becky Keller, President and Executive Director of The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation, to deliver his final blog post. Always caring about the countless people who either followed or who Tom helped in the cancer world, he reached out to Becky on President’s Day-2017, to be his trusted friend, together setting a plan in motion to carefully “take care” of his readership with his parting words of wisdom and advice. Please take note that this blog post was not written directly by Tom, himself, it is instead a forwarding of conversational messages that he entrusted Becky to share with all of you in the event of his departure from this planet. Always the planner, naturally a thinker, and eternally an optimist, after a clinical trial postponement period placed Tom’s cancer growth into a clinically compromised position nearly one year ago today, Tom asked Becky “a very personal question” and told her: “You were #1 on my list of potential people to ask and I would be honored to have you in charge of this for me. I trust everything that you will write”. Then, of course- Tom added “But I am still planning on this not to be ever needed! – You know me, I’m NEVER a defeatist – just practical. There IS a difference!!”
A shining advocate in the colorectal cancer community, a prolific writer, a multi-tasking genius, an oncology drug discovery scientist, a scholar, a teacher, and a man with the bottomless cup of energy. What Tom Marsilje achieved by placing Immunotherapy on the forefront for the colorectal cancer community will be helping patients and caregivers for years to come. People who never knew him will come to know about him – and they will benefit from his devoted work.
Tom was unique in his situation as both doctor and patient. He scoured medical journals and news outlets for breaking therapies – and with his uncommon perspective, he graciously translated and shared them with everyone. Simply keeping this knowledge to himself was never part of the landscape for Tom. Out of all of his incredible attributes, his caring generosity stands out above them all. Generosity of giving his time, wisdom, experience, and sincere efforts in guiding countless patients and caregivers; selflessly spending hours-upon-hours advising about pathways to consider when looking at potential immunotherapy trials. – And Tom never gave up hope; not for himself… and not for anyone else.
Tom’s dedicated and tireless work charged his hopes to envision the day that he would tell his daughters that cancer was no longer something that they had to worry about. He was relentless in this urgent quest – and patients- worldwide -depended on him.
But Tom Marsilje’s courage, endless generosity, dutiful service, and devotion to others are only part of his great legacy. How patients, caregivers, and Tom’s readership viewed him was primarily exclusive to their own relationship with him and their personal interactions. But Tom was much more than that… he had a private life.
Honored to attend and speak at his family’s private Celebration of Life on January 21st, I was handed the gift of gaining even more insight into the personal life of my friend, “OUR” dear friend, Tom, as described in the words and deep sentiment of his most beloved friends and family. The obvious love, admiration, and heartfelt loss placed the spotlight on Tom’s most significant “other life” outside of the medical & science world and colorectal cancer community.
Tom was a wonderfully adored father, husband, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, uncle, and best friend. His personal life was filled with a sly and playful sense of humor, a love for music and nature, and a strong faith in God and miracles, which actually took priority to science. In Tom’s own words: “God=First; Science=Second”.
Upon diagnosis, one of Tom’s first visits was to his pastor and a more permanent relationship ensued. Always considerate of others, Tom chose not share or discuss his faith in God and his spirituality with many people. He said that in his work as a scientist and with his peers, they dealt in “proof and results”, not something that could not be tangibly seen or proven. Since Tom himself represented the scientific community, he was hesitant to present a side of him that others might not be accepting of, comfortable with, or understand. With patients, caregivers, and his readership, Tom would never risk alienating someone who might not share his beliefs, so he politely kept them to himself.
However, for those of us who were fortunate to know “that side” of Tom, sharing his truth, faith in prayer & heaven, and his spirituality were effortless. I introduced Tom to Reiki and Guided Meditation, which opened avenues and pathways that astounded him, while helping him to find solace, acceptance, and his own life’s closure. He said: “Although I am a scientist, I am also a huge believer in the wonders and the energy of the Universe to do many amazing things that are not currently explainable by mainstream science alone.“ Now, as Tom soars “To Infinity and Beyond”, he would want to spread this message to prioritize and embody your own life’s greatest personal meaning. Search and find your gratitude for all that you have achieved and overcome, then go out and rejoice; -possibly jump and make a huge splash in your own #CannonballLife.
With his heart and courage of a “Lion”, Tom reminds us to keep our own Legacy “pure” by tuning in and finding our “inner-selves”, to never-ever give up hope, and not to hide or be ashamed of our beliefs. He would encourage us to give faith a chance, believe in the unexpected and the “unproven”, see the possibilities, and look for that higher purpose that absolutely exists. Tom’s words: “Stay Tuned”…. -have a much deeper meaning! – Always thirsty to learn more, we know that in-spirit, Tom is curiously searching for what lies ahead.
Despite all that Tom did as a patient, scientist, and advocate, he always kept in focus what truly mattered most. At the core of his being, Tom was, above all else, a soldier of courage and generosity who lived his life in service, with his life’s greatest joy and gratitude directed to being the beloved father to his precious daughters, Amelie and Eleni.-And Tom shared his joy with all of us through his #CannonballLife. His Adventures in Being Terminally Optimistic blog gave us a deep reserve of hope even in the most trying of times. Tom has made a deep impact in our beloved community and he was eternally grateful for the love that he felt by so many. He has earned his angel wings and will continue to watch over us. While we all mourn the loss of our dear friend, we remember the lessons that he taught us in joy and hope.
In life and in death, the days quickly pass by; and birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and special occasions just keep coming. Time is in and of itself a milestone – reminding us that we persevere and continue to survive- in ways that we probably never knew that we could.
But we do survive and we will continue on – because people like Dr. Tom Marsilje have left their life’s footprints on our souls. Tom’s valor teaches us; his strength of character inspires us; and his heart will always be with us.
On this Saint Valentine’s Day 2018, we are sending all of our love to the heavens on this same day which marks the 46th Birthday of Tom Marsilje III. We love you, our brave and heroic Lion.
“We must love, love, love and nothing else.”
To Life, Dr. Tom. – Always, To Life.
Respectfully written and submitted by Becky Keller, President and Executive Director of The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation, per the request of Dr. Tom Marsilje.