By Sally Tippett Rains
A Cardinal fan could use our positive thoughts, prayers –and stem cell donations. As Cardinals fan Thomas Brozich awaits treatment for cancer, he wishes the teams would get back to playing to help take his mind off of things.
“I am hoping we have baseball soon,” he said. “So I can watch them on MLB when I’m in the hospital for five weeks.”
Tom Brozich, of Springboro, Ohio was previously featured on STLSportsPage.com because of his love for the Cardinals. The large Cardinals tattoo (shown left) on one of his legs, caught our attention in the line for the buffet at the Homewood Suites when he and his wife Robin were there for Spring Training a couple of years ago.
“I got that tattoo in 2013 when the Cardinals went into the World Series,” he said at the time.
Brozich, who is self-employed as the president and CFO of Process 1 Solutions, Inc. said that since he owns his own business it works out for him to travel to the Cardinals games.
“I’ve been lucky that my job has allowed me to work from remote locations so when I’m traveling for baseball I’m not missing out on work,” he said.
His wife, Robin caught the home run ball David Freese hit in game four of the NLDS in 2011. They got to meet Freese after the game (shown in photo, left).
This year would have been his 41st consecutive Opening Day. Just as with so many Cardinals fans, he has many special memories including being at the game for one of Bob Forsch’s no-hitter, Game Six of the 2011 World Series, and the first game back after the 911 terrorist attacks when jack Buck read his famous ‘Bastions of Freedom’ poem.
“I also had the pleasure of meeting Jack Buck at the Baseball Writers’ Dinner at the Millennium Hotel one year,” he remembered. “He invited me for a drink and eventually asked me to sit with him at his table. I will never forget that experience.”
He attends Spring Training every year and has recently added another tattoo to his other leg– but with the abrupt end to Spring Training and stoppage of the regular season it seems like the Cardinals are a distant memory to him as other things have gained more importance in his life.
A pandemic and cancer can really put things into perspective. He has spent much time in the hospital– with no visitors during the COVID-19 virus– and the rest of the time he is quarantined at home with Robin.
“I have completed phase one of a Journey that has scared me and is changing the course of my life,” said Brozich, “I was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare form of Bone Marrow Cancer, and my next step is to begin a search for a stem cell match for a transplant.”
Brozich’s love for the Cardinals started when he was a child living in the Godfrey and Benld/Mt. Olive areas of Illinois. When he met his wife Robin, it all came full circle because she is just as big of a Cardinals fan as he is and their love story is the kind they write about in fairy tales.
This spring been rough for the Broziches going through cancer without the distraction of baseball. This week they had a ray of hope in both areas, but most importantly in his future.
“We had a meeting with Tom’s transplant surgeon and found out that they have two donor matches so far,” said his wife Robin. “We are waiting on results from four others. Tom is a strong candidate for the stem cell transplant. They will do 2 days of tests in early July and if all goes well they will do the transplant before the end of July.”
Each year Tom and Robin Brozich take a trip to Spring Training. This year, they stopped off in Asheville, NC and arrived in Jupiter Florida on their scheduled date of March 11. They attended the Cardinals game at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 12th—which unfortunately turned out to be the only Spring Training game they would see this year.
March 12th was the day MLB cancelled the season. While it was a huge disappointment, Brozich took it in stride.
“We booked a condo in Pompano Beach on the ocean for four nights and then we golfed our way back to Ohio,” he said.
They golfed at Trump National Doral in Miami, and enjoyed the scenery in the photo, left as they ate lunch. They celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah; golfed at Yankee Trace in Centerville, Ohio on April 19th and had a great time– and then shortly after that he checked himself into Miami Valley Hospital, in Ohio.
He had been dealing with low platelet counts (ITP) for several years and had been managing the process as he says, but this spring, after a weekly blood test, he received a call from the specialist at Ohio State University (OSU) James Cancer Center that his platelets had dropped to a serious level.
Getting the Diagnosis
“I was told to go to the Hospital and get an IVIG fusion,” he said. “I was admitted and transferred downtown to Miami Valley Hospital. I entered the hospital with low blood platelets in a serious health situation.”
He spent ten days in the hospital with no success in raising platelet counts.
“They thought I had antibody issues in my blood with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia and a rare disorder called Evan’s Syndrome,” he said. “I received five IVIG fusions, with no success.”
The worst part of it was he was unable to see Robin due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
“I missed our 11th anniversary,” he said. “We could just do FaceTime. Not being able to see or hold Robin’s hand during my time alone was so heartbreaking.”
At the time he admitted he felt “extremely nervous and scared” and that is also when he had a bone marrow test – the result indicated bone cancer. “It was terrible getting the news alone, it was so depressing.” Since then, he has started his schedule of three times a week blood tests and the wait for a donor match.
After that, he began local treatment in the form of additional platelet transfusions at Dayton Oncology while working with doctor’s at the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio for his transplant options.
It has been an up and down situation for the Broziches.
“One evening Tom got access to the doctor’s notes and they were a bit discouraging,” Robin said.
But then several weeks later they got more hope as it looks like he is headed for a stem cell transfusion.
“We are working with the Ohio State University (OSU) James Cancer Institute,” said Robin Brozich. “ A few years ago when Tom’s low platelet issue became a significant problem and we sought expert advice. Dr. Spero Cataland, at OSU, he was identified as a world-wide expert.”
Brozich has been under his care for three years, and only recently his blood platelets fell to a critical level. He spent 10 days in the hospital while they got him back up to a safe level.
To put this in perspective—most people have 150,000-400,000 platelets. Tom’s had dropped to 9,000. The potential for spontaneous bleeding that could kill him was high. They did a variety of treatments, finally releasing him after a platelet transfusion.
“He is home now, but having a platelet count every other day,” said Robin. “They attest this to a disease that destroys bone marrow. A stem cell transplant is his only hope.”
Recently they met with the doctor regarding the details of a stem cell transplant and feel they have a plan.
“Our visit with the surgeon was good,” said Robin Brozich.
He will have to find a match, though.
“We are optimistic about it,” she said. “We think it will happen within a month or so.”
They are hoping the hospital policies are more lenient by then.
“Tom will be in the hospital for five weeks, so we are hoping the visitor policy changes and I will be allowed to see him,” said Robin Brozich. “We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers we can get!”
How can our readers help?
“I ask that you please pray for Tom and for success with his transplant,” said Robin. “And donate stem cells. Donor have to be between 28-44, and you can’t specify who should receive the stem cells, but if any of your readers become donors and they are a match they could end up being Tom’s donor.”
The Brozich’s had to delay his 41st Opening Day due to COVID-19, but with a successful stem cell transplant they hope to experience that milestone as well as many more after that. Ohio State University (OSU) James Cancer Center, the hospital treating Brozich uses “Be the Match” to get donors stem cell donors.
If “Be the Match”sounds familiar to Cardinals fans it is because of the initiative started in memory of baseball writer Joe Strauss, who covered the Cardinals for 14 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and passed away in December 2015 at the age of 54 from leukemia. The Cardinals partner with the St. Louis baseball writers and Be The Match in an initiative to get more donors– and any readers interested in finding out more can CLICK HERE.
Maybe one will be perfect for Tom Brozich.
About Be The Match®
For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry®, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
With more than 22 million potential blood stem cell donors, the Be The Match Registry® is the world’s largest and most diverse donor registry. Seventy percent of patients needing a transplant will not have a family member match and therefore rely upon Be The Match to find one. Approximately 12,000 people (including Tom Brozich) remain in need of an unrelated donor each year. Be The Match is specifically looking for donors age 18-44, as research shows that cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants.
“At Be The Match we know how overwhelming and uncertain this present moment can be, but it is also a moment where we see people continue to step up and register to save a life,” said Erica Jensen, SVP of Member Engagement, Enrollment and Experience at Be The Match. “Although many potential donors are homebound at this time – they can still join our movement of hope by registering online. Together we can support patients and honor Joe (Strauss) and his legacy.”
Fans can learn more about the #Join4Joe virtual drive and join Be The Match by requesting a cheek swab kit anytime at cardinals.com/join4joe.
To read the original article on “Superfan” Tom Brozich: https://stlsportspage.com/2019/07/11/spotlight-on-superfans-tom-brozich/