What the Staff of Life Means to One Man

Tomasso

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.

Tomasso's Bread

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.

Tomasso with Sons

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

 

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Aspiring Bread Maker September 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Tomasso,
What a wonderful story you have shared, thank you! I love how you share your bread and joy. This might seem like a silly question, but what do you wrap/put the bread in when you give it to others? I would love to give away bread–just not sure how to present it! This is all so new to me, but I’m already having a blast as I made my first delicious loaf tonight! Thank you and may God bless you, your family, friends, and your health. :)

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stu k May 22, 2012 at 9:38 am

I did not expect to find such a moving story on an Internet bread site! Man does not live by bread alone, but by faith, hope, love,(see 1st Corinthians 13) family and friends.
We tend to take things for granted (such as health) until we no longer have them.
As one who has experienced war, I’m sure you’ll agree with my obsevation that one does not really appreciate life until one almost losses it….
Live and be prosperous….
Stu K.
Tel-Aviv

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David April 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Tomasso,

I want to thank you for your story of faith. I have not had any serious problems as of yet, but I do have the experience of knowing someone who provides the strength, love and companionship that makes living so wonderful; my wife Trish. In addition to being my very best friend, mother of my three boys and closest to my heart, she also was one of the persons that changed my father’s kidney solution procedures everyday along with my sister for the last two years of his life while I was not able to help. I feel blessed as you are blessed with family that are true to the meaning of the word family. Continue to live life with joy and appreciation.

My question is what do you bake your bread in?

Thank you.

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Tomasso April 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Hello David,
Thank You for your post, I appreciate that. As far as my baking vessels that I use are two oval roasting pots with lids. Our larger of the two is an old style aluminum roasting pot I’m guessing 8-9 qts I can remember my Mom would roast chickens, capons and bake Lasagna and stuffed shells. It’s amazing that I inherited when she passed away in 1972 and it’s in almost perfect condition. The other roaster is made by Le Creuset slightly smaller and with a coated finish.
I hope that helps
So now you know. The next time you make the best loaf of you’re life share it with a friend and then teach them to bake their own. Thank You Sir,
Tomasso

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David April 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I guess that the type of pot or pan that you bake in does not make a lot of difference as long as it is heavy. Thank you for the information. I think that I might have a pot just like the one your mother used. It belonged to my mother and I think I might still have it. I am hoping to find a recipe for an Easter Fruit bread like my Russian Grandmother used to make in time for me to bake one for our Easter.
My wife uses a clear glass pyrex bowl with a lid for the loaves that we eat. I would guess that they each weigh about two pounds and we haave given both the loaf and recipe out; very well received. I just wondered what you used to bake such a large loaf. Thank you. I pray that your Easter is as wonderful as I know that mine will be. God Bless.

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Gloria April 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

Hi Tomasso;

Just want to say you bread looks amesome! I enjoyed reading your inspiring story. You are in my prayers. May each new day bring you many memories to cherish and share. Keep that positive attitude. May God continue to bless you and may he heal you. God bless you.

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Maureen Cram April 1, 2012 at 6:23 am

Just proving some rye bread which I will share with my daughter-in-law. She has bone marrow cancer and a very strong belief system. Thanks for your inspiring comments xxx.

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Joan March 31, 2012 at 12:12 pm

You are such a strong and inspiring person – thank you for sharing your story. There truly is something so special about bread-making – I need to go right now and make some!!

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Tomasso March 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hello Joan,
Thank you for you compliments and kind thoughts. Joan, Would you consider sharing the bread you went to bake with someone in your life ?
I appreciate all of the kindness and prayers from each of you who has replied. BIG!!!! HUGS!!!! to each of you.

Tomasso

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Karen March 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm

You are truly an inspiration to us all…Thank you for sharing your story, and I pray for God’s richest blessing on your life!

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Tomasso March 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hi Karen,
Your prayers are so appreciated, I could never have to many of them. Please continue them and I consider myself blessed by them.

Warm Regard’s
Tomasso

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Becky Sue March 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Thank you so much, Tomasso, for sharing your story! God can bless in mighty ways! Your story was a blessing to me!
Becky

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Tomasso March 31, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Hi Becky Sue,
Each time I reply to the individuals who has posted their thoughts and feelings, The more I feel blessed and empowered by the reality of my slice of life and that people like me, You and everyone can make a difference even if it’s just the kind act of the gift of a simple loaf of warm bread, would you agree ?
I will ask you as I’ve asked everyone I replied to to make the best loaf of their life and offer it and give it to someone they know, would you do that ?
Please let me know.
Sincere thanks,
Tomasso

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Narde March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I loved that you shared your story Tomasso. Thank you for sharing it. It is funny how life works. Your breads are beautiful on many levels. I am so happy for you and your families blessings. Keep baking and thank you for inspiration shared.
Hugs. God Bless You always.

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Tomasso March 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Hello Narde,
Nice to receive your post and it warms my heart and soul that you’ve been touched in many ways. I’m grateful for all of your acknowledgements and I promise to keep baking, I give and share much more than I could ever eat myself.
Thank you for the inspiration that your feelings has passed on to me.
Have a Great night and a better day tomorrow.
God Bless you and you’re family also.
Ciao!!!!
Tomasso

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Don Hawkins March 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Tomasso, thank you for your inspiring story.
You don’t know me, but you and I share something – you see, I am dying from terminal cancer (prostate, liver, and bone) and the doctors say I only have a few months left to live. We also share a love for our Lord and Savior, and our church families are very important to us.

And finally, we share a love of creating things in the kitchen. I’m not a great bread baker, but with the help of Eric’s Breadtopia site, I’ve gotten much better at it! Still, my passion is cooking and creating recipes to put on my little blog (http://www.thisguycancook.com). I also find that mental attitude helps so much as I go through chemo and all the other treatments I need. I’m also blessed by my wonderful wife and caregiver, Dana – and my church family who does so much for me, whether driving me to appointments, picking up things at the store, or even bringing me meals if I need it. It sounds crazy to most people, I suppose, but I wake up joyful every day, and right now is the best time of my life!

I would love to get an e-mail from you or any other readers if you are moved to do so.

Keep the faith, Tomasso!

Don

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Tomasso M. March 31, 2012 at 9:25 am

Dear Don and Dana,
I’ve been quite amazed by the response that I’ve received. Even though I’m on my way to a great recovery. It’s still quite emotional to read and to live with what us as cancer patients have to endure to just exist and to have breath in our lungs.
I’m glad that you’ve responded to Eric’s and Breadtopia’s post,
Thank you. It means a lot to me
I want you to know that You and your family are on my prayer list and I’m praying for your strength to get up another day just as you are each day and to share love and life with all who is important to you. I’m also praying for Dana to have strength and determination to go on each and everyday with you and you continue to enjoy life for as long as you are able.
If I may make one request of you personally ? I’d like to ask that at least once a day or once a week that you bake you’re special best loaf of bread and give it to the person or family that you feel to be deserving of you’re BEST loaf. If that is asking to much I understand. I would hope that you get the same amazing feeling that I get every time I share my best.
Please stay in touch.
Warm Regards,
Tomasso

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Sonia March 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm

You are a living metaphor, making bread is transform only a few ingredients in something great, you show to us, no matter how bad are your condition always you can transform yourself and give something, love, bread, great histoy….
thanks for sharing

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Tomasso March 31, 2012 at 10:15 am

Good morning Sonia,
I appreciate your post and your kind words, Thank You!
sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that can have an enormous amount of meaning and goodness and in this instance it’s a very old, old friend & leader in wholesomeness
The Staff of Life.
Please share you’re next best loaf and I’m sure you have before, With someone who most deserves You’re BEST!!!!
To give is the Greatest feeling,
Warm Regards
Tomasso

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Michael Gale March 30, 2012 at 12:39 am

What an inspiring story – it shows what the power of making bread can mean in so many lives.
Thankyou for sharing it.

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Tomasso March 31, 2012 at 10:17 am

Hello Michael,
Thank you! for your response, I appreciate it and have a great weekend.
Tomasso

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Francine Epstein March 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Tomasso,

Your life philosopy, and story are truly inspirationl and wise words to live by. How very much I admire your attitude, and strong will to live for those you love. I hope you will share with all of us your bread recipe also; those loaves look amazing!

Stay well my friend,

Cheers,
Francine

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Tomasso March 31, 2012 at 10:45 am

Good morning Francine,
I’m so happy that I wrote a small slice of my life’s experience for you, Denyce, Eric and all of the family of Breadtopia, it’s been very emotional and very touching for me to receive all of the reply’s.
Here is THE RECIPE just for you but Shhhhh let’s tell everyone ok ?
600 grams of King Arthur’s Special which I buy in 50 lb bags
12 grams of regular Salt
1/4 to a 1/2 tsp of Active dry yeast, I used Red Star
450 grams of water
as usual whisk the dry incidence and add the water gradually using the Danish Whisk from Bredtopia.
Cover with Plastic and ferment 18 Hours. Then scrape out of the glass bowls with a plastic bench scraper onto a white or brown rice lightly flowered surface and using my scraper fold the dough 3-4 times while shaping the dough into the configuration is of the vessel you are going to finish you’re final proof in or on. then I bake at 475 and check at the 23 minute mark and go from there. I always finish my loafs directly on my 15×20 stone and rotate clockwise until I get the color I’m looking for remove and BIG!!! Smiles and the bread sings to me while on the Cooling racks.
I hope that helps. And when you make that perfect loaf give it to someone that is Special or you want to make special in you’re life.
Let me know of you’re results Ok
Warm Regards
Tomasso

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Regenia March 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Thank you so much for your story. I too believe that the power food gifts are the best way to show our love and belief in our lives. God has given us the ability to make bread from the beginning of time, it is a part of our history.

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