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Thomas Andrew Speaker Memorial

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Thomas Andrew Speaker Memorial Fund

                                                                                         

Tommy's Story
February 25, 1990 - January 29, 2021

Thomas Andrew Speaker passed away after a long battle with psoriasis, and mental health struggles which are often associated with the disease.

In his early years, Tommy was the most outgoing, hilarious trouble-maker you could imagine. He was fiercely competitive, ridiculously smart and extraordinarily mischievous, all while also managing to be the kindest, most thoughtful and compassionate sweetheart to those who knew him.

He was diagnosed with psoriasis in 2011, and through the years tried many different medications in an attempt to control the disease. Each would work for a period of time, and then stop working. With each recurrence, Tommy struggled more and more to maintain a sense of normalcy, all while being painfully self-conscious of his physical appearance. After his mother pleaded with him, Tom sought help from a therapist and was diagnosed with severe depression, but declined to begin prescription antidepressants to help deal with his suffering.

Over the years of his struggle, he slipped away. He spent less time with his friends, and less time with his family. Toward the end of his illness, he would not even be with his immediate family without covering every inch of his body in clothing, even during the extreme heat of the summer. He tucked his pants into his socks to keep the skin-flake evidence of his psoriasis plaques hidden the best he could. There would still be glimpses of the old Tommy. He would still smile, laugh and dance with his nieces. He would still have dinner every night with his parents. Just enough to keep us thinking he was going to come back to us.

On January 29, 2021 those hopes were crushed. After his death and searching his now empty bedroom, it was discovered that he had been secretly drinking alcohol to help cope with his crippling depression, which was always something he stressed he could not do because of the medications he took to control his psoriasis and how they can affect your liver. Tom ultimately died of liver failure at the age of 30.

Our family is now broken, and each of our hearts will always be missing a piece. We have decided to write this story in the hopes that it will make a difference.

Funds contributed to Tommy's memorial fund will be funneled specifically toward researching the mental health effects of psoriatic disease. Hopefully this research will be able to help to provide the support and resources to help other families remain whole, until there is a cure.

Once, when Tommy was a competitive little kid talking about winning another game in gym class, his dad asked him, "Hey, Tom? Have you ever lost before?" Tom's dark brown eyes squinted as he pondered and answered, "Nope, but I've run out of time." Here's to hoping not one more patient runs out of time.

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