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Oct 03 2012

Survivor Spotlight – Tom Guzik

Tom Guzik – a great father and husband, a dedicated friend
by SCTA Volunteer Joanne Glosser Jaeger

Tumor: Intra-medullary tumor at C2-C3 Dr Fred Epstein performed surgery at NYU Medical Center, Tisch Hospital,June 1990

Hobbies: Reading, running, growing a vegetable garden, hiking, web page design and creation, Community Swim team.

Favorite vacations: Theme Parks with lots of Roller Coasters.

Family activities: Camping, hiking, fishing, swimming and going to zoos and museums.

Family: Married to Joann for 18 years.
Children- Krystyna, 13 yrs old, Ryan,11 yrs old, John, 8 yrs old.

What would your kids say about you?
I think my kids would say that I’m a good daddy and that means more to me than anything else. My kids would describe me as a fun person, as I like to joke around with them and act goofy at times. They might also say that I work too hard, that I’m always busy doing something, I never rest.

Location: I relocated to Conyers GA for my present job. I was born in and lived in NJ up till the job relocation here to GA. We will have been in GA 2 years this coming August. There were no problems with adjustment, as both my wife and children loved the house, the school, the neighborhood, the people, etc. So for now, GA is our new home and who knows, maybe in 10 to 15 years our goals and dreams may take us elsewhere.

The family that Scouts together stays together: The whole family is into Scouting as Krystyna is a Girl Scout Cadet, Ryan is a 1st year Boy Scout and John is a Bear Cub Scout. Joann is an assistant Girl Scout Leader for Girls Scout Troop 2505 and I am a Den Leader for Cub Scout Bear Den 3, Pack 410, for Central Georgia’s Yellow River District. Scouting teaches good citizenship and moral values to kids, which is important as so many kids are heading towards a life of trouble, as they are not being raised by good solid family values. Also scouting is a group that teaches kids to be self-reliant and make sound choices and use good judgment.

Inspiration: What inspires me the most are challenges and seeing the end result of helping others when we are able to do so. I’m driven to be very busy as I find that I’m happiest when my mind and body are occupied. I tend to get restless at times and keeping busy helps ease my fidgeting. I think my need to keep busy is related to the SCT surgery, as I think that if I’m idle, I will lose all the gains that I made in returning back to a normal active lifestyle. So for me, being active prevents me from slipping back to the state I was in the 1st few months post surgery. I think I truly began to appreciate the many gifts that life has to offer and especially how wonderful your family is while I was recovering from the tumor surgery.

Moment of Hope: I recall that around the 3rd day post surgery, I was feeling awful, if it didn’t hurt, then it was numb and it wouldn’t work. I also had significant spasticity that made every movement a task. I couldn’t sleep, had no appetite, basically felt miserable. I wanted to change my mind and not go through the surgery, I wanted to undo what was done, but alas, that could not be granted, so I began to think that maybe I should just turn myself off, let go and leave behind all the pain I was feeling.

Later that same day I made my decision to give up, my wife Joann came into my room to see how I was doing. Prior to the tumor diagnosis, Joann and I had been planning to start a family. When we learned of the tumor we had stopped trying, thinking that if things did not work out well, it would be easier. Joann leaned over to me in the bed and whispered to me that she thought that she was pregnant. The moment I heard her say it, I knew it was true. I knew then I would need to keep fighting and stick around to watch our child be born and grow up.

Well, we now have three healthy happy kids and who proved to me that the fight was well worth it!

Listen to the Doctor: I often think of Dr Epstein and something he told me after he removed the tumor. Dr Epstein said, go out there and live your life, don’t think about the fact that you had a spinal cord tumor, live your life like you never had one, do everything that you want to do, don’t hold back on anything. I owe lots to the good Dr’s advise and have lived my life based upon his wisdom and it has made all the difference.

Friendships made through the website: I cherish and value the many friendships I have made with several of the SCT members. These people are very dear to me and I view them as family and would do anything for them. I consider these friends to be life long friends and we keep in touch with each other despite our busy lives. Something that I like about my job responsibilities here at work is that I often am required to travel around the country, so when I visit an area where I know a member lives, I try to meet up with them to see how they are doing. For example I had to travel to Toronto Canada to attend a vendor meeting, so I hooked up with Missy Mandel and spent time with her and her family.