Losing a Piece of Himself
Frighteningly, what started as a seemingly normal sick visit to the doctor turned into a parent’s worst nightmare. Tom Mitchell’s oldest daughter, Shayla, thought she had a sinus infection. Instead, she suffered from a large cancerous tumor in her chest causing her lung to collapse. Sadly, Shayla had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Suddenly, Shayla was undergoing intense cancer protocols and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, complications and hundreds of nights spent in the hospital were ahead.
During her battle, Shayla and Tom discussed and reflected on what it means to be brave. Tom led the way by showing strength in the face of heartache. He noticed their situation stripped away character defects – like greed and selfishness – that didn’t serve them. Their awful situation ended up showing them their most raw, authentic, and beautiful, selves. Out of these discussions, Tom’s idea of true bravery shifted.
Bravery in its Truest Form
After Shayla’s passing in 2009, Tom set out to fulfill a promise he made to his daughter. He founded Stillbrave, an organization providing non-medical supportive care to children with cancer and their families. Beautifully, Stillbrave lives out the truest form of bravery – showing up when others are at their most vulnerable.
Endearingly, Tom is referred to as “Tattoo Tom.” He personally visits children in the hospital and holds their hands while they are dying. He shows up for dinner at their homes and provides real support to siblings who are often deeply impacted. Tom is doing really incredible work, despite the difficulty. Not many of us would have the strength to do what Tom does.
Learn More About Tom
Other resources mentioned in the interview
Tattoo Tom is featured in three powerful Ted Talks. Bravely, Tom talks about the death of his daughter, introduces us to a young girl currently fighting childhood cancer, and educates us on how current cancer treatments are harming, rather than helping, our children. Trust us, watching them will have a significant impact on your day.
The photos included beautifully, and proudly display Tom's dedication and commitment to fighting childhood cancer and making his daughter, Shayla, proud. We see him laughing and playing with children fighting this battle on a daily basis. We see him blowing off steam and raising funds. But mostly, we see that Tom wears his heart on his tattooed sleeve. Beautiful and dedicated, Tom gives everything he has to this cause.
Heartbreakingly, Tom says he would trade everything for one more day with Shayla. He hopes he's making her proud and we are sure he is.
Fight like hell
Tom is an unapologetically loud and proud activist. First, do yourself a favor and follow the work that Tom and Stillbrave are doing. Second, get involved and be part of the conversation so that you can help eradicate this terrible disease. Finally, spread the word about what Tom and Stillbrave are doing. This fight cannot be won without your help.