But in the months since that have been dominated by pain, life saving treatment and a road to hoped for recovery that stretches months more into the future, the good has been the full blossoming of a love story between a husband and wife, parents both to two young daughters.
“My daughter goes to the hospital every day. This is a true love story. Tom is so devoted to Stephanie and she to him,” Charlotte Sheehan, Tom McTigue’s mother-in-law, told the Echo this week.
The devotion within the McTigue family will be reflected at a community level in a few days when family, friends and colleagues and community supporters will gather at Gaelic Park for a fundraising event aimed at meeting the ever mounting expenses that the McTigue family is facing, both as a result of hospital treatment and the need to adapt the family home in New Jersey to facilitate Tom’s continued recovery when he eventually makes it home.
Tom, who is 38, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leudemia on January 31 last. In the following weeks he spent most of his days at Cornell Medical Center undergoing treatment, including chemotherapy.
On what was Tom’s second round of high dose chemotherapy, he suffered an adverse neuro toxic reaction and was hospitalized for 60 days.
As a result of the reaction, he has difficulty talking and walking and is now in a wheelchair for most of the time.
In the middle of all this, his wife had the couple’s second daughter, Summer, a sister to two-year-old Kendall.
In recent weeks, Tom has undergone radiation treatment, further chemotherapy and, on July 24, a bone marrow transplant.
According to Charlotte Sheehan, Tom is likely to be in hospital for some months to come though the family is holding out hope that he may make it home in time for Thanksgiving, or barring that Christmas.
Tom McTigue grew up in the Bronx, his wife in West Nyack in Rockland County. A graduate of Fordham Prep high School, Tom attended West Point where he graduated in the Class of 1991.
Up until falling ill, Tom was working as an attorney in Tarrytown, Westchester County. His father, also Tom, is a retired New York City firefighter and a piper with the FDNY Emerald Pipes and Drums. Like his father, Tom McTigue also plays the pipes.
The Emeralds are expected to play at the Gaelic Park fundraiser, set for Saturday, September 22.
According to Charlotte Sheehan, the fundraiser will feature many games, competitions and attractions for the kids. In addition there will be live music and numerous raffle prizes including a trip to Ireland.
Money raised at the fundraiser will go to defraying medical costs and installing a specially equipped bathroom at the McTigue family home in Westwood, New Jersey.
“Tom is having to learn to use all his muscles again. Right now he can’t walk and his speech is also very lethargic,” said Sheehan.
“Tom is such a special person,” she said.
“He’s a wonderful son-in-law. Even when he’s down he greets you with a big smile. It warms your heart.”
More details on Tom’s treatment and recovery, the efforts of his family and many friends and the upcoming Gaelic Park gathering are available on the website www.goteammctigue.com.