Who in their right-mind; who has continuously been engaged in a nearly 7-year brain-ear-throat-tumor-battle leaving him disabled; who has also successfully fended-off spinal meningitis and multiple-cancer diagnoses prompting successful radio-activity treatment in the form of Brachy-therapy; who has survived two full-on craniotomies, a fusion and proton therapy; and who has stopped breathing at least once; resuscitated by the on-duty STAT doc employing a bedside-emergency tracheotomy; who woke up from anesthesia in the ICU after his second craniotomy; with no clue where he was; hallucinating that all the on-duty medical personnel were dressed as clowns; so he remembers thinking-oh perfect-kidnapped by a Circus-Clown group; convinced he would be forced to lead a life of performing under duress under a humongous tent while plotting the great escape from clown captivity in humongous shoes; could possibly refer to himself as: the luckiest Montanan alive?
Meet my life-long buddy; the exceedingly private, counter-intuitive observer, thinker, planner, executor, leader, straight-talker, bully-hater; inveterate-pragmatic-goal-setter and husband to his first wife of 40+ years; and still one of the funniest/frustrating people in the room…fondly known by many of us simply as: Tc. This website welcome may seem long on Tc and short on RAiLBAK; probably because I’m only masquerading as the welcome writer when really I’m the voice tor Tc. Why? Because one of the more notable of Tc’s casualties from his 7-year brain tumor war is he lost the battle of his voice and I don’t mean in the sense of that well-used colloquialism: he lost his voice…I mean permanent. And since you RAiLBAK Readers will never hear Tc describe the development of the RAiLBAK characters and the GR8 characteristics you need to succeed in life; at some book signing; I thought this welcome would be the perfect forum to memorialize Tc’s life’s work-adventures…which evolved into becoming a major influence on forming the basis for Tc’s character-driven, creative literary works. I can assure you readers it’s extremely brief compared to even the abridged version of the adventures Tc has experienced in his life’s work and family life; which form the foundation of his 40+ year literary endeavors. As Tc says: Back Story to follow.
Over the years, a number of people have written intros for Tc during his various speaking engagements knowing nothing about Tc other than what was printed on his professional resume. He grew up in a private time in our country in a small town where you protected your family name especially if your old-man was a lawyer turned law professor and made sure you knew family reputation meant everything. But I wanted to write the intro to Tc’s literary/ARTs website since I am one of the few people familiar with Tc’s dedication to his beloved avocation: writing; and for the first time in his life; after being chided for his uber-guarded-private personae in this age of social media; Tc has allowed me to unveil parts of his life in this public forum; as he now has done so in his writing. It’s not that as Tc says; he’s any big deal because he’s not; but Tc finds it surprisingly cathartic to formulate narratives about semi-autobiographic events; in light of the fact that Tc has faced-down his own mortality more than once in the past decade. The good news for us RAiLBAK readers is his brain tumor hasn’t adversely affected Tc’s memory, allowing him to write about nearly forgotten events as he elevates his writing to the vocation level which allows us all to be the benefactors of Tc’s characters’ perspectives.
Luckily Tc practiced creative writing for 4+ decades; and has the rejections from as early as the 70’s to prove it. Tc challenges his daily literary regime with one of his typical short-hand goals: 1000/100/10; meaning: 1,000 words written/100 pages read/10 pages translated. Tc periodically translates his creations; such as Vol II of the RAilBAK Adventures series; into Spanish and Italian with a French version to follow. Tc believes original works translated into as many languages as conceivable are essential to expanding the breadth of cultural understanding among global readers.
One of Tc’s primary writing beliefs based on his own experience including his years working at the Hellgate Writing Lab is: to write skillfully; you have to read. Tc is convinced his artistic capacities continue to evolve and are instrumental in his ability to overcome his health challenges. Tc also understands he’s not alone in this approach. And is pleased to know others whose artistry has allowed them to overcome challenges in their own lives. Tc is so moved and appreciative that a millennial artist acquaintance who tragically lost her first child’s father; has already expressed her desire to display her amazing creations on Tc’s ARTs website.
A sister of one of Tc’s close friends once described Tc’s spouse’s amazing spirit during conversation at a heavily-attended dinner party, simply as; (what I’m sure many of Tc’s friends consider accurate but never before articulated in their out-loud-voices; much to everyone’s delight including Tc’s spouse MG and Tc): being married to Tc must be super-uh-challenging. Her observation came shortly after Tc had concluded a story about one of his too-many crazy-work-related occurrences. Tc’s intriguing story took place during a project in a dangerously remote locale in Africa, in the middle of the night after the driver of the vehicle Tc was traveling in became horribly lost. The vehicle was ultimately stopped by heavily-armed military-types waving flashlights and AR-15 rifles as they persuasively blocked the road demanding payment-to-pass. Tc found himself negotiating with the unofficial-toll-collectors through his interpreter; all-the-while staring down the barrel of a fully-loaded AR 15 invasively thrust through the open rear window; hoping to convince the uninvited interlopers to allow the vehicle to pass with no Naira changing hands; and no blood staining hands.
I can tell you one thing without pretending to speak for Tc’s amazing spouse-MG; I suspect challenging may have overshot the mark a bit; but the pace of being married to Tc has certainly never been described as dull. Even now; after 40+ years of marriage; as Tc continues on undoubtedly his most perilous mission: to win the battle with his brain/ear/throat tumor. As his various teams of doctors and nurses including world class neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, ear and throat specialists, plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, and oncologists; located in 3 states; realized early-on; while Tc may be entertaining even in his current state of disrepair; and does not want for toughness and resilience. He is certainly one of the most challenging patients imaginable because patient just isn’t in Tc’s vocabulary. Which led to more than one scolding by various medical staff members who in most instances are shaking their heads and smiling as they walk away. (Just an FYI: Tc thinks being scolded just means you are probably efforting as hard as you can; and being referred to as incorrigible is a compliment.)
When Tc’s surgeons took a few minutes during pre-op for one of Tc’s craniotomies; to discuss the protracted recovery period; indicating that Tc’s stay in the ICU could potentially last three weeks followed by up to three months in the hospital. I can tell you without even being in the room exactly what Tc selectively heard was: three weeks from now you can go home.
For an inveterate goal-setter like Tc, as he relays the story, he immediately set his short-term-goal to be on the road back home to Montana three weeks after the operation. The second Tc’s eyes opened after nearly 20 hours under the knife I can guarantee you his internal fire started to smolder as Tc began strategizing what he later explained to me and others was his: hospital great-escape. The frustrating part of Tc’s goal-setting missions is at times they include one or more of his uber-competitive adult children as co-conspirators. Who embrace Tc’s challenges at least at the investigative/analytical level to determine if they are doable. Frustrating especially to MG which according to Tc is baseless because MG is a worry-wart and being half Italian just loves too hard…whatheheckisTctalkingabout? Is generally the response from Tc’s buds.
Tc’s ARTs website vision is to offer Montana artists, (primarily); with a few exceptions I’m sure; who have been confronted with extraordinary life challenges; and whose art has allowed them to overcome; an alternative website to display a concise, virtual catalogue of samples of their artistic creations to the world; accompanied by a posted link to their own virtual galleries. The inclusion of Kiddoes Korner will also expand this website to include creative works for kids and Adult kiddoes with the first addition being the inclusion of the original dino-characters and their story from Tc’s Credibledibles team.
Tc has already survived longer than many believed possible. Tc credits his ability to continue writing for pulling him onward. Tc wants to ensure the overwhelming dedication and support of his cadre of extraordinary medical professionals and Team Tc’s remarkable circle of family and friends stretching from Africa to Australia; doesn’t go unappreciated or unacknowledged…the most genuine appreciation Tc can provide at this point in his life, after 8-years of creative work, is to post his original RAiLBAK books on this website at extraordinarily affordable introductory prices; as the most soulful thank-you he can offer. The past decade has been a new experience for Tc who spent most of his professional career focused on investing all his energies to troubleshooting or enhancing corporate or firm economics to assist in driving them forward. While simultaneously taking care of his various teams; his little extended family; and his beloved mom. Tc also found time for his diverse causes such as his love for helping students at his alma mater, the Hellgate High School writing lab; and his friends and his kiddoes’ friends activities. Tc likes to say families first is a great concept on paper or in political-speak but if you aren’t dedicating your time to working first and making a living, you won’t have a family for long.
Tc never took before he gave. A born minimalist who ironically delighted in working and making a living as much as he loved dedicating his life to his fam and giving life. The most potent example I can give you as readers is the one thing he considered nearly as important as his work and family: giving blood. Tc started giving blood in the Marine Corps and gave until cancer and his brain tumor stopped him. I’m convinced if Tc had his minimalist way, he would have lived in a garage; (which he did at various times in his life); if he hadn’t met MG and understood that his family had certain basic standards, such as: they can’t live in a garage; especially with children; even if it has electricity and a concrete floor.
To this day Tc loves to work. Tc simply believed he had the energy to do whatever it took to earn the money required for Tc and MG’s little fam regardless of his professional status; from bar-tending to editing. Tc believes there is no higher calling than working. Tc believes good economics overcome most social issues including crime because people have jobs. When Tc returned to the US after a year abroad and met MG in Boston; where she worked for the International Tax Program at Harvard Law; Tc hit the pavement and got a job working in the Harvard Law Admissions office by-day. Helping to create joy for a select group of applicants; and by-night creating joy for all comers who selected ice cream concoctions and sodas Tc engineered while working at Brigham’s Ice Cream shop .
During his law school years in New Hampshire, Tc took-on extra shifts in a local publishing company; where he worked part-time; to earn extra money to buy suits for his work with a small New Hampshire law firm and his internship with the Massachusetts Attorney General (MASS Attorney General Letter) in Boston. Lawyers didn’t roam the halls at Mass AG headquarters without a suit coat or vest on at the risk of being scolded by an Assistant AG. Tc and his pocket full of cash hit the highway to Filene’s Basement in Boston and bought Yves St Laurent, Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brother’s 3-piece suits for pennies on the retail dollar.
For as long as I have known him, Tc the professional; whether working a full-time job or consulting on projects; wrote during the hours he described as: the late, late shift; usually 11-3 AM when the kiddoes were all tucked in. Tc’s creed is; live a simple life with complex goals and little sleep and you will succeed by getting out in front of most people including yourself. Tc accumulated assets as a goal; not for show. Tc was probably a born problem-solver with absolutely no fear of failure or personal consequences. As MG will readily confess; Tc frequently looked over his shoulder; especially when things were going good; waiting for the other shoe to drop and making sure he had a plan when it did.
Tc says his dedicated attitude toward work was first recognized and rewarded by the Marine Corps with more than the accolades he received as an adolescent when, as a young Marine, he proudly sported the 3 stripes of a Sergeant E-5 after a meritorious promotion…so why change? Tc realized youth could lead in life. Tc joined the Marines by signing-up for the delayed-entry program at 17 years of age with his old-man’s signature heartily inked below Tc’s on the dotted line, in December of his senior year in high school. Tc knew it was one of the few positive things his old-man would do for him and probably the last thing. Tc became a member of the third generation of 7 Cromwell Marines to serve on active duty; ultimately producing 7 E-5 Sergeants; joining his older brother and followed by their younger sister. An inveterate planner and manager even at a young age; surreptitiously, Tc figured this act of signing up for active duty alone would simultaneously fulfill his desire to serve; allow Tc to get his old-man off his back for the remainder of his last year of high school; and earn Tc enough GI Bill credits to pay for his entire undergraduate education in Montana, like so many Cromwells before him. Tc’s old-man would ironically breathe easier knowing Tc had Marine boot camp waiting for him immediately after graduation from Hellgate regardless that Viet Nam still loomed large as a potential destination for active duty Marines.
Tc has always been pragmatic and his dubious future as a baseball player was founded on what he described in typical Tc-reality as a small-time, finite opportunity at best; since beyond college there was no economic future. Tc, getting out in front of himself, figured he could realize more collegiate opportunity from the GI Bill than any other at that point unknown source; and if Tc got injured playing inter-mural sports in college he realized the GI Bill didn’t care. But potential fun baseball scholarship would go bye-bye in a New York minute with a bad skiing injury. Tc was already looking well-beyond undergrad school at this juncture.
The Marine Corps risk? All Tc figured he had to do was survive Viet Nam for 13 months if he was ordered to go. And that’s where a whole bunch of Marines, including Tc’s bro, were seemingly destined to go as the war was in full bloom after the Tet Offensive. As fate would have it; in keeping with the early influence of luck on the luckiest Montanan alive, Tc’s active service as a US Marine included facing no-more dangerous events than those occurring on a Friday night at the base NCO club at MCAS El Toro, California. USMC Leadership Recognition
Tc always liked to have a plan for his life, years in advance. As he has said frequently, this eccentricity made him less anxious about what his future entailed regardless whether the plan had to be tweaked or not over time. As Tc recalled, he’d been on his own to figure out his life emotionally and financially, except for his mom’s loving support and his friends and their parents, since middle school. Starting in high school Tc recalls the incessant scolding received from his old-man; a rigid WWII Marine veteran, lawyer/law professor; about something or other. So Tc figured attending USMC boot camp was no big change for him except he got paid to endure the abuse. Which Tc viewed as a bonus especially since his pay origination date was six months earlier than nearly every recruit he went to Boot Camp with, which translated into a few extra bucks on pay-day, perfect for the inevitable low-stakes poker games. Even in the Marine Corps Tc earned extra money by typing educational compositions at night for officers working toward advanced degrees. Tc often said; the most valuable course he ever took during high school: typing.
When Tc’s old-man challenged him in high school by telling him if he didn’t get straight A’s; like his older brother; he would be grounded for an entire quarter. Tc, always out-in-front by anticipating his old-man’s too predictable approach to parenting, responded with something to the effect (paraphrasing here): Great, that means you (the old-man) are going to finance my baseball/swimming/fly fishing and skiing seasons by buying me: replacement 1st baseman’s mitts, cleats and bats and Head skis with bindings and poles; and racing swim suits and goggles; line and fly tying material since I’ve already got a nice rod and reel; because I won’t be able to work as much as I do if I have to get straight A’s so you’ll have to take on those financial responsibilities instead of me. Deal?
As Tc laughingly puts it; the preliminary negotiations between himself and the old-man fell apart at that point faster than a Babe Ruth home run leaving the yard; since his old-man had absolutely no intention of buying Tc anything that didn’t have a hard cover and a title. Tc continued the conversation unilaterally much to his old-man’s chagrin, offering an option that Tc fondly referred to later; in his Marine Corps years as: the 70% solution. Since school and school-associated activities were a major part of his life, Tc offered to spend approximately 70% of his non-sleep time on school-related-obligations and the remaining 30% on paid, work-related pursuits he pursued when he wasn’t schooling. End of conversation…formally concluded by the old-man’s response to Tc as nearly every conversation that didn’t go the old-man’s way; expletive deleted.
It was well-known that Tc’s old-man grounded Tc more than once but Tc rarely paid much attention as he had long-been desensitized to the old-man’s rants, regardless of the high-decibel level the old-man’s delivery reached. After such sessions, Tc usually just went to work at one of his many part-time jobs or in the winter practiced an indoor sport or went night-skiing at Marshall. During the summer Tc escaped the old-man’s bullying by playing hoops at Bonner Park or moseyed over to any number of his friend’s houses or the DQ to hang out. Did I mention Tc’s dislike for bullies; including intellectual bullies with SJD’s.
Tc’s experientially-enhanced, educationally-based skill-set of diverse credentials; including his formal training in the investment world as a broker and trust officer for several different financial institutions; was attractive to both public and private family-owned corporations as well. Tc’s evolving strong foundation of global work and resultant problem-solving reputation afforded him a lifetime of rich work experiences and an amalgam of equally rich characters to use as inspiration for his writing. The dilemma of periodically receiving professional offers in diverse capacities while flattering and economically enhancing; was misinterpreted by some as professional wanderlust but luckily Tc had experience dealing with judgers beginning at a young age. Being head-hunted on various occasions with offers frequently accompanied by signing bonuses, and occasionally followed by project-completion bonuses for successful projects; allowed Tc to establish a home-base in Montana after their wonderful Alaska experience and still enhance his family’s economics.
Tc often commented in his counter-intuitive manner during interviews; if he was hired or retained for a specific position or project; he assumed everyone on the interview committee understood he would always communicate in honest, straight talk and his ultimate mission was to pursue the work as he saw fit and satisfactorily complete whatever he was hired to do; which at times resulted in Tc working himself out of a job. Secretly, Tc always hoped he would be the one to decide when it was time to move on. In nearly four decades of work for many diverse organizations, Tc recalls once he was asked for his resignation. As a result Tc will say in some, albeit rare, circumstances if you aren’t at least threatened with termination, no matter how painful, you probably aren’t adequately doing your job or standing by your beliefs. Tc always says when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror you are looking at the reflection of the only person you have to live with; so hold tight to your character.
Tc’s resignation was requested after he informed an executive of the company Tc worked for at the time; that Tc supported a long-time employee who the executive had recently terminated. Tc and an internal corporate team, which included the fired employee, had recently completed a cost-reduction project which saved the organization a significant amount of money. The executive asked Tc for his resignation shortly after Tc communicated his support for the terminated employee to the exec. The executive informed Tc the organization’s entire Board of Directors backed his request for Tc’s resignation. Tc clearly supported the terminated employee to his detriment; which was typical of Tc’s loyalty, character and approach to straight-talk and general dislike of bullish business tendencies.
Of course the exec couldn’t imagine Tc had his own contacts among the organization’s Board members. Tc spoke with one of his Board contacts who said he had no idea Tc’s resignation was being requested and as far as he knew none of the Board members had been informed either. Further, the Board member didn’t even know the long-time employee was being terminated by the exec. But that was the extent of Tc’s Board interaction and Tc was soon thereafter gone. The only thing that bothered Tc about this dust-up was it happened so quickly Tc hadn’t lined-up another potential project, requiring Tc to hit-the-market and search for a work opportunity. Luckily for Tc; satisfied with his actions; he has the ability to compartmentalize unfortunate events like this one in his mental files to revisit later and continues moving forward. In typical Tc fashion; the request for his resignation prompted him to place another title on his list of trademarked future books: Board to Death; which will focus on the Board members of a number of the more notable US corporate bankruptcies. The foundation for Board to Death will be Tc’s personal observations of Boards of Directors he dealt with directly. Tc performed preliminary research for B-t-D focusing on various Board members from failed companies; which buttressed Tc’s belief that many corporate Boards are strictly ceremonial in nature and offer ineffective organizational oversight.
Tc luckily enjoyed return engagements with clients and employers alike; who valued his abilities and reputation as much as Tc valued the work; knowing Tc spoke his mind and had the training, experiential and application skills to back-up his advice. As one of his favorite executives and company owners used to ask Tc during heated operations’ discussions: Are you telling me I can’t do it? To which Tc would respond; (paraphrasing of course): No, that’s not my place…what I’m suggesting is you better run it by the Board of Directors. The now famous storied response which Tc loved: I AM the FREAKING Board of Director; (the company owner controlled virtually all the company stock at the time). Another CEO; who Tc worked with frequently and clashed with on more than one occasion during the CEO’s tenure; was terminated from the company where Tc worked. The CEO called Tc and another officer into his office just prior to the CEO’s departure. Much to Tc’s surprise the CEO stood up behind his desk…held out his hand…and basically said: thank you for always giving me great advice and counsel. Tc describes these amazing work vignettes as simply that kid-Sergeant from the Marine Corps luckily evolving into being in the right place at the right time; wearing a new uniform of suits and ties; growing more mature; but still able enough to engage in intellectual battles and speak his mind; endearing him to clients, employers and corporate executives; who still outrank him.
Tc also enjoyed speaking to business and law classes during his pre-tumor years. When the inevitable question was queried by a member of the audience; (especially in light of the fact for many years Tc negotiated on behalf of management versus various unions during collective bargaining): What was the toughest battle you ever engaged in? Tc’s response without hesitation: Fighting off bad Genes.
Yet many years in the making, and unbeknownst to Tc, his toughest opponents would arrive in microscopic forms. His most challenging battles he could not wage on his own and win: fight off bad cells. Cancer cells including prostate, basal, squamous and melanoma; and a large, benign extremely rare brain tumor labled a Solitary Fibrous Tumor of the Meninges which spread to Tc’s throat, ear, and spine. In this circumstance, unfortunately the results of Tc’s typical manner of working harder to problem-solve and overcome most of life’s challenges resulted in a two-word Tc observation: not happening.
In 2008 the Perfect Storm for Tc began and is just now leveling out a bit nearly a decade later. Tc was participating in; what he indicated would be his last start-up effort after working on about a baker’s-dozen during his professional life. The company had developed brilliant software; which, with a detailed business plan and a hard-driving, committed veteran business-savvy group of management operators; attracted a plethora of investors, and a global publicly-trading company interested in placing the software in a number of kiosks in its 200+outlets in Northern California.
Meanwhile, the little start-up had previously placed software operating kiosks in the Northwestern US and Canada. With paid advertising installed in the kiosks from companies as diverse as Yellow Tail and a state lottery, Tc the future looked bright; and the world had no clue when the US government allowed Lehman Brothers to declare bankruptcy in September 2008 it was the beginning of a global financial melt-down unseen since the Great Depression. It still seemed to be business as usual and the general feeling was the government would bail out the financial giant. But behind the scenes markets were tightening up. As was Tc’s prostate cancer diagnosis and Tc’s treatment decision to attack it with Brachy-Therapy so he wouldn’t be totally laid-up for months while still actively participating in building a company. Tc basically introduced his abdomen and prostate to controlled radio-activity inserted in seeds on titanium wire-like rods; disallowing him for months from being in close-proximity with pregnant women; young people and folks who were in ill health.
There were times Tc was convinced his deteriorating health was somehow tied to the deteriorating world financial markets and even though Tc’s medical team instructed Tc to go easier; he didn’t hear any of that. All Tc knew was no matter how hard he battled like the old days; dedicating all his energy into attempting to develop markets for the start-up during the cancer treatment; he couldn’t gain control of his health. And the financial dominos simply fell faster globally than anyone anticipated. The Canadian outlets suddenly went bust and the US market followed. Tc started becoming as severely ill as the world financial markets. The US’s debt had been downgraded and would no longer be classified as top-notch triple A with no immediate cure on the horizon. Tc felt a simultaneous downturn in his own previous robust health with no particular cure on the horizon. Tc was ultimately downgraded to 100% disabled with what was diagnosed as his exotic brain tumor; which like the global financial markets had been evolving badly with no one realizing it for many years, then boom; no more boom and it caught you. Luckily, once the team of start-up operators realized the extent of the global financial downturn they immediately stopped taking paychecks; had never borrowed money against the company; had money in the bank; retained ownership of the original IP software asset; pivoted the start-up’s focus and saved the company which operates today in spite of losing 7 figures of previously committed investment dollars. Tc observed years later on a personal note; in his typical dark-humor delivery; it took him over 40-years working as hard as he could to reach the poverty level after covering years of medical costs.
When Tc’s brain tumor was finally diagnosed; the neurosurgeons’ research discovered less than a dozen reported cases of this type of brain tumor in medical history. To suggest the surgeons were entering uncharted territory for treatment would be an understatement. Tc’s leading neurosurgeon indicated after craniotomy #1 it was the toughest case he’d been involved in and he’d been an accomplished neurosurgeon for many years. Ironically, Tc’s case was accepted for presentation by one of his craniotomy #1 surgeons at the annual world Otolaryngologist’s convention in British Columbia. Ironically, where previously the little start-up company Tc worked with had successfully graced a number of stores with its kiosks. Tc’s case presentation fortuitously led Team Tc to the surgical teams who performed craniotomy #2; the nearly 20-hour operation in Salt Lake City; during which the surgeons redacted almost the entire remaining tumor including the inter-cranial mass and also sacrificed various cranial nerves, a carotid artery, a vertebral artery and parts of Tc’s neck area and his left inner ear in its entirety.
By early 2012, after undergoing many months of tests and receiving his 100% disability award he longed for the style of award he received in the Marine Corps. By then he had lost approximately 40 pounds, could barely walk, swallow, sleep and threw-up nearly every day for months. Yet all the tests including biopsies came back suggesting Tc was in fine shape. Tc’s Perfect Health Storm gale never subsided as Tc never made his last three years of exams with his urologist for his Prostate cancer treatment protocol as he was forced to embark on his continuing battle with yet another invisible opponent-his tumor. But as one of Tc’s neurosurgeons noted: every part of Tc’s body including blood and major organ functions had been x-rayed; MRI’d; C-Scanned; tested or biopsied; and if there was any cancer it would have been discovered by this approach to observing Tc’s inner biologic workings. Besides, as the neurosurgeon suggested, Tc should not worry about the cancer; which was obviously gone; invoking a Montana-style medical analysis; that Tc simply had: bigger fish to fry.
Craniotomy #1 occurred in 2012. For approximately 12 hours a surgical team led by a neurosurgeon and otolaryngologist achieved their primary goal of removing the tumor from pressuring almost all of the cranial nerves so Tc could regain the weight he lost, get stronger, learn to walk again and eat normally prior to the next major craniotomy. Followed by a number of smaller operations, Tc spent more than a year rehabbing and regaining his strength in preparation for what is now deemed as craniotomy #2. On Friday the 13th in December 2013, (12/13/13), the operation, now remembered by date, duration and difficulty is a hard day to forget. Tc was operated on for nearly 20 hours by 3 surgical teams representing: neuro, ear and throat specialists. It was akin to a tag-team wrestling match; one team would finish and the anesthesiologist would indicate that the next team could tag-in.
When Tc woke up 20+ hours later, one of his anesthesiologists was sitting at the end of his bed in the ICU. She smiled, and pointed at Tc exclaiming: You–are a Rock Star. Each time a team finished-up their portion of the operation, everyone looked at me and asked how you were doing before the next surgical team began and I confidently let them know each time: You never left me. Tc’s now famous comment in response to his anesthesiologist (paraphrasing) : I feel like a rock star all right…one who has partied for days, and remembers nothing.
How can Tc possibly think he’s the luckiest Montanan alive? His answer is predictably real and simple as he explained to his loving spouse during one of their recent wedding anniversary celebrations: Tc said he has been blessed to live a love-story for over 45 years with his wife MG; a love-story people dream about. Authors have written fictional accounts of real life love-stories like theirs for hundreds of years without knowing such a real love story could exist. Tc considered he has been fortunate to pursue many years of adventurous work for amazing organizations with equally amazing people in diverse locales from Africa to Australia to the Arctic Circle and no more creative place on earth than: Las Vegas; because he always had his rock-solid marital and family foundation supporting him. Tc luckily found his dream partner early in life and delighted in the opportunity to raise and educate three amazing kiddoes. Tc said thankfully the kiddoes take after their mom so they could attract wonderful spouses; and in turn bless us with super grand-kiddoes. Tc said being the luckiest Montanan alive allowed him to be around to participate in two of their kiddoes weddings and be present at their two grand-boys births. Tears were crushed and champagne glasses raised.
Tc traveled like a bandit and worked directly for; and with; unique, eccentric, eclectic, successful, complex, brilliant men and women who offered him more than enhancements to his skill sets; none the least of which was an amalgam of characters. Characters that nobody could create with mere imagination alone; which makes Tc’s prose so rich and real and raw. How does all this make Tc so lucky? His life was fully dimensional when he needed his health most. Some may describe Tc’s life as chaotic or peripatetic; but certainly healthy; before Tc got embroiled in the battle with himself against the seditious, nearly invisible internal adversaries.
How lucky can a Montana guy be? Even after his health started deteriorating and Tc was typically hanging-on to life with all the energy he could muster. Tc reminds us all, post-brain tumor diagnosis, he witnessed the reward of watching their little family expand; dedicated time to write and create the RAiLBAK website; and celebrated his beloved friendships with so many of his life’s acquaintances. Through it all Tc kept surviving and honoring each day he was luckily granted. Which has moved Tc beyond crushing-tears on many an occasion and to the classic movie buff Tc; reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart’s character: George in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Tc’s friends in his hometown of Missoula, Montana, so generously and lovingly hosted an evening benefit for him; raising money to help defray medical costs which over the years had stretched into 7 figures. Tc, seeing so many of his friends and family in one spot for a fantastic celebration of support; as Tc says; probably did way more for his continuing will to survive than any amount of money could.
Now you know a bit of Tc’s back-story to better understand the breadth of his lifetime of experientially-influenced writing. Lucky? Pre-tumor Tc never had sufficient time available to dedicate to his writing craft, as he desired…and to set the goals he now attempts to meet every day. Buy a couple of Tc’s RAILBAK books; at Introductory Prices listed on this website; for more insights into an atypical amazing Montanan’s life experiences and philosophical insights; namely; mine…Railbak. By doing so you will also help capitalize RAILBAK’s Hugs Foundation at the same time. Tc would want you to know he survived his health challenges On Purpose just for you readers. He always wanted to tell his stories which may in some small way assist in helping others realize that a life suddenly derailed; after experiencing an active, successful work-adventure-love-filled purposeful life for many years with no health issues; can still be rewarding and purposeful for many more years.
Happy Reading to you all, RAiLBAK