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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Guest Blogger with Bill Tomoff, ChatGPT & The Focused Fight!

There are a lot of swirling heads, hearts, and minds with all this talk of ChatGPT. I've done at least one post on it with a positive slant. That is how I intend to use it too. I hope to use this tool for even more positive ideas moving forward. Once the application is downloaded onto either a computer or smartphone, or both, it's quite intuitive to use - follow the prompts. Oh, and the program saves everything!

So, when Hubby Bill started to learn more and more about the application and its many useful items built into the A.I. program, he decided to take a chapter from The Focused Fight and play around with it, asking for a 100 or 300-word summary and more. Since Chapter 19 - The Postcard Project - was Bill's brilliant idea in the summer of 2004, he started with that one to see how it would all flesh out. I hope you will see how it works from the example below.

Unlocking Hope: The Impact of a Postcard Project on One Family's Childhood Cancer Battle

Introduction: This blog post results from using ChatGPT (CGPT) to summarize and reframe chapter 19, The Postcard Project, in Terri Tomoff's memoir, The Focused Fight: A Childhood Cancer Journey: From Mayhem to Miracles.

My twin Don and I have been learning, "playing with," and working to identify compelling personal use cases for using CGPT to enhance our performance and ability to bring increased value to ourselves and others.

The summaries provided here were a direct result of prompting CGPT based on the full text of the chapter. I have first-hand knowledge of the topic (creator of The Postcard Project), so I can verify the results of our family's direct experiences. I have tweaked the results below for greater clarity and accuracy, yet the starting point provided by CGPT astounded me! I started by copying and pasting the chapter's entire text, about 1,500 words, into CGPT and prompting it for a 500-word summary recap. Then I prompted it, "Why was the postcard project important for Ryan and our family?" The results encouraged me to share in this blog post. Reminder – I carefully read the answers generated by CGPT and modified the results to reflect sentiments that aligned exactly with my feelings. However, the "head start" provided by CGPT is the emphasis here – I am sure this result would not have been gathered without the assistance of CGPT.

2004 – Ryan Tomoff – Louisiana Tech Women's Basketball Staff

Recap of the Chapter: Chapter 19 of Terri Tomoff's book, The Focused Fight: A Childhood Cancer Journey: From Mayhem to Miracles, titled "The Postcard Project," shares the story of a unique initiative undertaken by the family of Ryan. This young boy had gone silent after his second acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cancer relapse.

The news of the relapse made Ryan sad and uninterested in talking with almost anyone. Hoping to lift his spirits and encourage him to communicate, his father, Bill, conceived a project where well-wishers would send sports-themed postcards with supportive messages to Ryan. He was a huge sports fan.

Termed "The Postcard Project," the idea rapidly gained momentum, with people sending postcards worldwide. In addition, Ryan received other gifts, including sports jerseys and even a letter of good wishes from the President of the United States, George W. Bush! The family had set up a P.O. Box to manage the volume of mail, which exceeded 2,500 pieces between June and December 2004.

The postcard project not only provided a distraction for Ryan but also became a ray of hope for the entire family. People's goodwill worked wonders, as the messages he received lifted Ryan's spirits. Depending on his health and mood, He could open the mail on his terms, either in the hospital or at home.

One touching incident mentioned in the chapter was when a nurse, who had earlier sent Ryan a postcard from Hawaii, was assigned to him at Duke University Medical Center for his bone marrow transplant. The family viewed this coincidence as a minor miracle. Despite the trauma and uncertainty surrounding Ryan's treatment, the chapter emphasizes the resilience of Ryan and his family. Their motto of taking things "One. Day. At. A. Time." was a steady mantra amidst the chaos of chemotherapy treatments, infection complications, recovery, and preparation for his bone marrow transplant.

The postcard project had miraculously achieved its aim – Ryan's spirits were lifted by the cards received, and he began to talk and engage with others. The chapter also highlights Ryan's resolve to attend an annual weeklong cancer camp, Special Love's Camp Fantastic, reiterating his determination and will to live.

Overall, "The Postcard Project" exemplifies the healing power of collective goodwill and how a small act of kindness can have far-reaching impacts.

Message from the White House from President Bush & Barney

Why was The Postcard Project Important for Ryan and Our Family? The response generated by CGPT brought me great gratitude for the idea happening. It reminded me that Ryan and our family were immensely blessed with the overwhelming response that supported him throughout the summer of 2004 and his trip to and treatment at Duke University Medical Center in October 2004 until we returned to Maryland in March 2005. A couple of boxes of unopened cards traveled with us. Ryan had a consistent available supply of notes that reminded him he was loved, and a vast tribe of supporters was holding him close in their thoughts and prayers.

The reasons suggested by CGPT for the significance of the project were:

  1. Boosted Spirits

  2. Sense of Connection

  3. Restored Communication

  4. Global Support

  5. Distraction from Pain

  6. Family Bonding

  7. Miracle Moments

Each reason suggested was a great observation, and Terri and I would summarize in the same way – if we were able to articulate the thought as concisely as offered by CGPT (and then reworded to our preference). The response from CGPT (clarified wording to reflect our experience) is below. The Postcard Project was significant for Ryan and his family for several reasons:

  1. Boosted Spirits: Amidst the painful and exhausting process of treatments and recovery, the postcards served as a source of joy and excitement for Ryan. The sports-themed postcards catered to his interests, and the encouraging messages improved his mood.

  2. Sense of Connection: While Ryan had retreated into silence, the postcards allowed him to maintain a connection with the world outside his hospital room. They served as a non-intrusive way for well-wishers to communicate their support.

  3. Restored Communication: The postcards sparked curiosity and interest in Ryan, encouraging him to start speaking and engaging with others a bit more. Opening up to others was a significant emotional and psychological recovery milestone.

  4. Global Support: The wide-ranging response from people across the globe emphasized the collective goodwill towards Ryan. This universal display of human kindness profoundly impacted his family, giving them hope and strength in challenging times.

  5. Distraction from Pain: The postcards provided Ryan with a much-needed distraction from his painful treatments and the longer-term extensive inpatient treatment process. They served as a pleasant diversion, giving him something to look forward to.

  6. Family Bonding: Collectively experiencing the project brought the family together, providing a shared focus and a sense of solidarity in a stressful and worrying period. It also brought joy and a sense of achievement as Ryan's spirits improved, and he opened up to communicating more regularly.

  7. Miracle Moments: Unexpected instances, like the nurse at Duke University Medical Center who had earlier sent Ryan a postcard, ending up as his caregiver during his bone marrow transplant. The nurse event is one example of several emotional moments of wonder and joy experienced by the family.

I am pleased with ChatGPT's assistance summarizing Chapter 19, The Postcard Project. The result articulates the power of what the project brought to Ryan and our family. I hope others will be inspired to be creative and seek help and support. The response and success of the project made a difference for Ryan!

Postcard Puzzle – Happy 10th Birthday

Ryan Tomoff – Brazil Soccer Jersey





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