Lead. Learn. Change.

Terri Tomoff - Keeping the Faith. Focus. Fight.

Episode Summary

Terri Tomoff is an author, soccer ref, car enthusiast, quilter, wife, and mom. In this episode Terri shares enlightening and informative commentary based on her book, The Focused Fight – A Childhood Cancer Journey: From Mayhem to Miracles (link in Show Notes). Terri and her husband Bill, along with daughter Olivia, have been on an incredible journey with Ryan, the youngest in the family (now in his late twenties), spanning a lifetime, from Ryan’s initial cancer diagnosis at the age of two, to today. The years in between have produced an extraordinary story of grit, resilience, hope, and determination, and brimming with wisdom that each of us can apply to our own situations and challenges. The second quotation in Terri’s book captures the essence of Terri’s story, Ryan’s story, the Team Tomoff story. “Sometimes real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.” Listen. Then read, because you will want to know more.

Episode Notes


4:35 – 35th wedding anniversary

5:25 – key qualities to a strong and meaningful relationship

6:00 – team approach

6:45 – facing unexpected fears, head on, one day at a time

7:25 – discovering inner strength

7:55 – Olivia, the amazing daughter and sister

9:05 – Special Love, Inc., Tom and Sheila Baker

9:35 ­– BRASS Camp

11:10 – Ryan, first cancer diagnosis at two years old

11:35 – ordinary family with an extraordinary circumstance

11:50 – leukemia meets it match with Ryan’s grit

15:00 ­– choosing hope is choosing life

15:15 – Make-a-Wish trips

16:15 – leading through advocacy

17:05 – management is key

17:45 – gratitude for such remarkable support – it kept us going, it keeps us going

19:25 – Camp Fantastic (Special Love, Inc.)

20:15 – no one wants to join the club of parents of children with cancer

21:00 – adult skills learned as a child through trial and error

23:30 – rhythm of life, impact on traditions, a roller coaster of life

24:35 – bringing home a puppy in the midst of the challenges

25:45 – ready to go to the hospital on a moment’s notice

27:10 – selecting quotations that capture the essence of one’s thoughts and intended message

29:05 – meeting Ryan’s bone marrow donor, Scott Harris

31:05 – consider joining the bone marrow registry

32:00 – graft versus host disease can be deadly

32:40 – Sharon and Lee Johnson, the ultimate role models and friends

35:15 – manufacturing sunshine

36:00 – Ryan’s loud pants

37:05 – writing a second book (Joyride Journeys)

38:30 – naming our cars and upcoming cross-country driving trip

39:20 – post-traumatic growth and gains

40:05 – how do we channel our loss?

41:40 – advocate for yourself


Focused Fight book

Ryan’s speech

Camp Fantastic

Bone Marrow Registry 

Terri’s website

Post-Traumatic Growth article

Music for Lead. Learn. Change. is Sweet Adrenaline by Delicate Beats

Podcast cover art is a view from Brunnkogel (mountaintop) over the mountains of the Salzkammergut in Austria, courtesy of photographer Simon Berger, published on www.unsplash.com.

Professional Association of Georgia Educators  

David’s LinkedIn page