Par­ents ful­fill son’s dy­ing wish to pub­lish book

Cecil Whig - - REGIONAL - By KARIE SIM­MONS

ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

— Tom Bo­gush al­ways wanted to have kids, but can­cer took his life early and he never got the chance. He also dreamed of help­ing oth­ers and now, a year and a half af­ter his death, he fi­nally is.

His par­ents, who live in Bear, re­cently pub­lished a chil­dren’s book called “Otis and His Dad,” which Tom wrote while in the hos­pi­tal. The book tells the story of Otis, a yel­low Lab who is learn­ing to face his chal­lenges head-on. The book par­al­lels the strug­gles Tom faced as he suf­fered from brain can­cer for 10 years be­fore dy­ing on Sept. 24, 2014, at the age of 38, and is meant to in­spire oth­ers to keep fight­ing.

Pro­ceeds from book sales go to Ne­mours/Al­fred I. duPont Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren and the Na­tional Brain Tu­mor So­ci­ety.

His mother, Linda, said that al­though her son has left a pos­i­tive mark, his jour­ney wasn’t easy.

Tom grew up in Bear and went to Glas­gow High School. He stud­ied eco­nom­ics at the University of Delaware and, af­ter grad­u­a­tion, worked as a soft­ware en­gi­neer and an IT con­sul­tant.

In 2004, he suf­fered his first grand mal seizure, which in­volves a loss of con­scious­ness and vi­o­lent mus­cle con­trac­tions, and was rushed to Chris­tiana Hos­pi­tal. Doc­tors dis­cov­ered a tu­mor in his thal­a­mus and wanted to op­er­ate, but af­ter get­ting a sec­ond opin­ion from John Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal, they de­cided to wait.

Tom lived rel­a­tively symp­tom-free at his home on Coun­try Club Drive in Newark un­til he experienced another seizure in 2006. The fol­low­ing year, he un­der­went a nine-hour surgery to re­move a large piece of the tu­mor and con­trol the swelling in his brain. It bought him some time, but not much.

“We knew from the be­gin­ning it was ter­mi­nal,” Linda Bo­gush said.

A few years later, Tom had another seizure and doc­tors learned the tu­mor was

NEWARK, DEL.

still grow­ing. He un­der­went a sec­ond surgery, dur­ing which he suf­fered a stroke that par­a­lyzed the left side of his body. He couldn’t talk or swal­low and was told he might never walk again.

All the while, his mother never left his side.

“I stayed with him 24/7 in his room,” Linda said. “He was my son and he needed me. It doesn’t mat­ter how old.”

Tom re­habbed in Wilm­ing­ton to learn how to walk with as­sis­tance and per­form ba­sic func­tions. De­spite his orig­i­nal prog­no­sis, six months later, he com­pleted the Na­tional Brain Tu­mor So­ci­ety’s 5K walk.

Linda said her son car­ried his zest for life with him un­til the day died and was de­ter­mined not to let his can­cer di­min­ish it. His goal in writ­ing “Otis and His Dad” was to in­spire oth­ers to do the same.

She said Tom’s dog Otis, who is now 11 years old, played a ma­jor role in lift­ing his spir­its, which is why he based his book on the beloved four-legged friend.

“Wher­ever Tom went, Otis was,” Linda said. “It was like his kid, just like in the story.”

Tom fin­ished writ­ing the book just be­fore he died and asked his par­ents to make sure it got pub­lished. He had one re­quire­ment, how­ever, which was that he wanted chil­dren with can­cer to il­lus­trate the pages.

“I thought that was won­der­ful be­cause they live on in this book,” Linda said.

She said she was un­sure how to ful­fill her son’s dy- ing wish un­til one morn­ing when she woke up with the idea to go to Ne­mours/Al­fred I. duPont Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren.

“I think Tom told me,” she said.

She jumped out of bed, grabbed pa­per and crayons and drove over to the hos­pi­tal to pitch hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials the idea. They were im­me­di­ately on board.

“I think they knew it was a once-in-a-life­time thing,” she said, not­ing that the hos­pi­tal had never fielded a re­quest like hers be­fore.

It took over a year to col­lect all of the draw­ings and get the story pub­lished, but in Jan­uary, “Otis and His Dad” fi­nally be­came a book and Linda and her hus­band, Tom, fi­nally made their son’s wish come true. She said they also had help from Tom’s friend Kevin Sheri­dan, who is a pub­lished author, and De­bra Quin­ton from It’s a Snap De­sign.

Linda said al­though it is a chil­dren’s book, the mes­sages within “Otis and His Dad” speak to read­ers of all ages, re­gard­less of whether they have been di­ag­nosed with can­cer or know some­one who has can­cer. The book en­cour­ages peo­ple to face their chal­lenges and be brave be­cause, as Otis learns, “you’re only afraid of what you’re un­sure of.”

“It’s got im­por­tant points for every­body,” Linda said.

To do­nate to the Tom Bo­gush Foun­da­tion, which ben­e­fits the Na­tional Brain Tu­mor So­ci­ety, visit www. tombo­gush.org. To pur­chase “Otis and His Dad,” visit www.ama­zon.com.

NEWARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIM­MONS

Linda and Tom Bo­gush hold “Otis and His Dad,” a chil­dren’s book writ­ten by their late son.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Tom Bo­gush’s dy­ing wish was to have his chil­dren’s book pub­lished.

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