Sharing everything from their faith journey and signs from beyond, to the ripple effects that continue to this day as a testament to the legacy of Mitchell Thorp.
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: Your oldest son came down with an undiagnosed illness. After five years of searching for the answers, he passed away. Will you start off and share a little bit about Mitchell as a kid, and then when you started to notice something wasn’t right?
Right after his 13th birthday, was when we started to notice something was wrong. He was complaining of headaches, and like any mom, I thought, “Okay. Maybe you’re coming down with something,” So we gave him a pain reliever and said, “Go lay down and rest,” thinking it was just the flu or something. When things weren’t starting to get better, we took him to the doctor, started doing the next indicated things. The doctor said, “Maybe he’s got allergies. The headaches are caused by the allergies or maybe his eyes. Maybe he’s sensitive. Maybe he needs glasses,” so you keep checking the boxes, right? Of things that the doctor keeps telling you to do, so we did and then he still wasn’t getting better, and his head pain would be coming back, and so we then had to keep going to the doctor and asking, “What’s wrong?”
Finally, one day he came home from school, and he collapsed in the front yard. He called out for me, and I ran out to him, and Brad was here and we carried him in the house, and we were like, “Mitchell, what’s wrong? What’s happening?” And he said, “I don’t know. I have such bad head pain.” We knew something was seriously wrong so we took him to the hospital at Rady’s, and they did a workup and managed his pain with IV meds. The tests all came back normal, and we were like, “Okay, Now what?”
You think he wants to be like this?” I had a picture of him. I said, “This is Mitchell. He wants to be playing baseball with his friends. He doesn’t want to be like this.” So, we had to agree, let them do their tests. He tried to do what he could. He could barely even function until they came back and said, “No. It’s not psychological.” Okay. Let’s rule that out. You know, you keep checking the box. Rule things out, until finally we were there for a month and still with no real clue.
However, they were good at putting in a G-tube for him by then, because he couldn’t swallow or take down food, and he was losing weight at an alarming rate, and that was also probably part of the problem. They broke the myoclonic seizures through medication, so he wasn’t seizing so much, so that was the blessing that happened that we came home with. They said just take him home and make him comfortable. Basically, put him in a hospice care, or palliative care is what they called it. But we weren’t ready to give up on him, so we lined up our nutritionist here, and we brought in an osteopath.
Since Western medicine couldn’t figure it out, we’re going to do things holistically. We had a physical therapist come, a pastor be here, his school teacher and a nutritionist. We just kept doing the next indicated thing for five years, which tested our faith beyond measure. We had people praying over him, coming into the house. We had pastors coming. People just praying over our situation, people caring about us.
RM: I can’t imagine the frustration of seeing your son decline, yet all the tests reflect nothing abnormal. The burden of everything you are trying to carry, coupled with your marriage, and your other son… where did the strength to even get through the next day come?
BT: It was challenging, to say the least. It definitely tested our faith, our marriage. It affects right down to siblings. Matthews grades went from A’s down to D’s. He didn’t focus. Luckily, he was in baseball, so they really watched out for him and helped him, his teammates, and kept him busy. People came and helped, and he had a case worker at school then to help him get through school. It was just so hard to focus. Siblings get affected. The whole family unit gets affected.
Always, we were ready to line up the very next indicated thing, just trying to save him, and save our son until we could find some type of diagnosis, which was another thing that, to this day, the only thing that came close to was one doctor who analyzed his blood under a microscope. He saw that there was some heavy metals.
So that’s where we discovered metals, so then we had to detox him from the heavy metals, and then we had Brad, Matthew, and I tested and we thought, “Who poisoned our boy?” He had five of the heavy metals. I mean, he was off the charts. He had over 100 percent of his lead, cadmium. Arsenic. And then we tested ourselves and we were all normal. Actually, I thought, “Is it in our water? Is it something in our house?”, because you want to find out what, and if we have it. But he was the only carrier, so that was the first clue that something was abnormal, so it was almost like an onion. We kept peeling layers away of trying to figure out, “Okay. The osteo says we’re going to detox him,” and so we had to get an infrared sonar, and there was some things they had to do IV wise to detox, and so we thought, “Well, maybe once we get him clear of this, he would start to feel better.” But it didn’t and we tried everything. I mean, two-and-a-half years into it, all of a sudden, one day he was unable to walk or speak. So for his last two-and-a-half years, we didn’t hear him speak. We had to read his body language.
RM: That was one of the most heartbreaking chapters in your book, when you were talking about your darkest night and his passing. I’m sure there are triggers, but how have you, and the family, processed grief even to the point now where you’re able to talk about it and communicate it through a book?
BT: Grief affects everyone differently. When you go through it, at least for me, and my husband probably can speak to his point, but you have to be patient with everyone because, like you said, it affects you differently, each person differently. Everyone grieves differently. I’ve been told, and it’s usually true, that the deeper the love for someone, the harder their grief. For me, it was like the knife was in my heart, and it’s like part of me died, and I couldn’t stop the bleeding in my heart. I was just curled up in my bed, and I didn’t want to see the light of day. I didn’t want to be on the planet anymore. That’s how far it took me down, besides the exhaustion.
My husband was so strong to pull it together, to put his service together with my family. I just wasn’t even functioning. I was like a deer in headlights. I just couldn’t function. That was the week of his passing in Texas, and he flew me to Tucson. That was Thanksgiving week. That was really challenging. Down to my sister’s house in Tucson, and he said, “I’ll drive the RV back to California,” and my brother came to meet him. That was the week of Mitchell’s passing and so much pain, so much heartache, but my sister said, “I have a very wonderful person who’s got healing hands who wants to just provide a massage for you and help you relax.”
I thought, “I don’t know if I want to do that. How can I relax when my son just passed? How is this going to work?” But she said, “Just go. Just go and relax,” so we were in her guest house. She set up, and I’m laying there. As the masseuse was starting to just massage and work on my neck, she was like, “You’re so tight,” but for first time in over two-and-a-half years I heard my son’s whisper in my ear. It was so profound, because a mama can tell their child’s voice. If they’re in a room somewhere and you hear your child speak, you know your kid’s over there. You can just know their voice, and he whispered in my ear, and he said, “Mom, let it go,” and I sat up. The masseuse was like, “Did I do something wrong?” I said, “No. I heard my son speak.”
I heard him so as plain as day “Mom, let it go.” He knew how much pain I was carrying. And so that was the first beautiful sign of that week of his passing, and then that same week, which was Thanksgiving week, I woke up to two beautiful arching rainbows in Tucson. Then, my sister in Sedona, my other family was in Sedona while we were in Tucson. I’m looking at the rainbows, and I’m sitting outside and my sister says, “I’ve lived here 13 years in Sedona. I’ve never seen one rainbow. Yet two.”
I felt that Mitchell and God were just assuring us… God saying I have him, he is okay, he is risen, double rainbows, usually it’s the reverse in colors of someone ascending from earth to Heaven. When I started researching the meaning of the rainbows and colors, and what they mean, a rainbow in itself is from Heaven to earth, but double rainbows, it’s a reversing from God’s promises from earth to Heaven. So, that was a beautiful sign just for us to see with our eyes.
Then at the same time, Mitchell’s walking stick that he used on the trails of Sedona all the time – it’s almost a little shepherd staff – my family was all in the other room eating, and Mitchell’s stick was propped in the corner. No one was out there, and they heard a big crash, and my niece got up to go check out what that loud noise was, so little Andrew went with her. And Andrew, at the time, put his little Indian beads with his name, ANDREW, on it. It fell, and a couple beads were broken off, specifically the D and the R.
RM: Stop. So now it reads ANEW?!
BT: Yes, So little Andrew’s on the floor, going “oh my beads” and my niece was like, “Well obviously Mitchell’s trying to tell us something. Let’s see what it says now.” And when she picked up, she said, “Oh my God, he’s letting us know he’s a new creation. I’m Anew.”
“I’m okay. Mama, Daddy. I’m okay. I’m a new creation. God took me home. I’m anew.” And then my sister, Cheryl is a very faith-filled woman and she picked up the stick and said, “We’re going to give this to Brad and Beth when we see them and present this to them to bring them hope that Mitchell was trying to talk to us beyond the veil.” He was trying so hard to talk to us, to let us know where he was. I bet he was so excited. And he was trying to communicate this to us here on earth and this was his visual sign to us. So that was so cool.
BT: The foundation wasn’t even on our radar.It was just not. The first step was we just wanted to rename the ball field in his honor, Thorp Field.Some friends said, “Hey, let’s rename a ball field in Mitchell’s honor.” And that was all we thought we would do. And give a scholarship to young kids that couldn’t play baseball, since Mitchell loved the game so much in his honor. So Brad thought that was a great idea.
However, we’re still grieving, but we had to present this now before the Parks and Rec Commission and then the City Council. I’m still not in a good place and Brad says, “Can you present? You do such a better job.” I’m like, “What makes you think I’m not going to stand up there and just break down and cry?” Making a long story short, we did the first hurdle with the Parks and Rec to convince them why this would be wonderful to rename “Field One” to “Thorp Field.” And then we had a plaque made up on the back side of the scores table.
And then Brad was at the church one day because one of the kids he coached came down with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and then there was another boy that had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Both families lived within a mile of each other and they were trying to raise money. The community had come up and supported us when Mitchell was still with us with a walk-a-thon that helped raise $70,000. So Brad was sitting in the high school ministry church trying to figure out fundraising for the family, and that’s where Lord spoke to him.
It’s only been nine months since Mitchell passed and he came home and said, “I want to start a foundation.” And I’m still grieving, “You want to do what?” We don’t know anything about starting a foundation. But then I realized when God spoke to my spirit, so clearly, before him, when he said to me in the deepest part of my pain, again, hearing that still small voice, that’s how God speaks, “this is not the end, this is the beginning.” And I didn’t know what he meant by that. And then Brad comes home and tells me, “Lord spoke to me. We should start a foundation.” And then I was thinking, well, maybe that’s what He means. This is not the end, this beginning. So literally it is God’s grace when anyone’s grieving. It’s God’s grace that wraps His arms around us. That’s what I felt like, because I was so vulnerable. Brad was too, but I was so vulnerable just to even go out and face people in the world.
So they trust us in helping them. Many of them, we don’t know their faith walk. So oftentimes we’ll go into hospitals and we will greet the family and the child. And we bear gifts when we come and we share with them through their application, how the foundation can come alongside them and help them.
God heals on the spiritual level. Miraculous things can happen for spiritual healing. Some people have had the miracle healings, in our case, we did not in Mitchell. So people who say, “Why didn’t God save your son?” You hear that? I’m sure they’re thinking it right. But when we had to surrender Mitchell to God, that was the hardest thing to surrender at that point. Because no one could figure it out here for my son, in my heart, I knew God had to take him home to heal him. God had to take him home and heal him and use him for a higher purpose. That’s how, in my mind, I find meaning for his death.
What the enemy meant to steal and destroy, which he does, when we came through our healing and for your audience, it took two years for me to truly heal, to see the light of day again. I mean I was walking. I was kind of like a dead man walking. Does that make sense? I’m just kind of going through the motions, but coming through the healing, we had to seek spiritual counseling for both of our marriage and us to break things off us. And a big part of it is forgiveness. You can’t heal until you forgive. So a lot of that is forgiving the doctors for not finding the answers, forgiving people who said things that they shouldn’t have said, forgiving family members who did things they shouldn’t have done. It’s this whole line of releasing, that our spiritual counselor had to break things off of us. And once that happened and the Holy Spirit moved in, that’s when the transformation happened. Where the next day I woke up from that healing session, so transformed, it was almost like Daniel going through the fire, but not being burned. We went through the fire. Have you ever heard of people going through the fire?
That was my transformational moment. And I think from Brad too, my husband, because I woke up the next day. He said, “I don’t want to do anything else on this planet unless it has eternal significance.” That’s how profound I was and stern about it. Everything I did in my previous world, in the fashion industry, I had no more taste for it. How God just took it away. He had put in me a whole other purpose and a mission that was stronger than I’ve ever had in my life. And I shared it with him and he was like, we’re on the same together.
BT: It was so interesting. Three years in, my sister, Cheryl, the one that picked up the walking stick and said, Mitchell’s brought more people to Christ than I’ve ever seen, including our own personal family. You need to write a book one day. But I wasn’t there yet. I couldn’t see it all. A book? I’m still in the grieving process. So I give credit to her because she started to put a little rough outline together. She got so excited.
I still couldn’t see the fingerprints of God through it all touching the lives of so many others along the way until now. It took COVID and a global pandemic to shut everything down for us. Running the foundation and all our events getting canceled that God’s finally spoke to me again. That still small voice. I don’t hear Him all the time, but when you hear Him, you know it’s Him. And he said, “Daughter, it’s time to write our story.” Just like that. And when I hear Him, then there was no question, I got to it.
It was always in my heart to write it. I wanted it out at our 10 year anniversary, but it wasn’t time yet. So to me, I always know when you walk with God, it’s always in His perfect timing. His perfect will. And when it happens, it just began to flow. I pray every day before I began to write. That it’d be His words, not mine and that I do Him justice because we are a witness for Him. He’s the protagonist working through us. That’s what I want the readers to know. If you surrender and listen and walk in faith, He will guide your steps. You just have to be still, to listen and to know when to move, and when not to move.
So that’s was an amazing process because for a first time really author to write this, it was a labor of love, really was. And in honor of Mitchell and in honor of God to be a witness. Our family to be a witness for God, to let people know that no matter what you’re going through, He is real. He is there by your side even when you feel like He’s not, but you have to ask Him and invite Him in.
And if you are a unbeliever, I pray that my book will at least bring you to a place of asking God you’re your heart. There’s a prayer to show yourself real to me, no matter what you’re going through, whether it’s a loss of a child, a health condition, divorce, all those are losses. Those are things you grieve over. And to me, I much rather walk it with my Lord and Savior than walk it alone. Because it’s dark when you walk it alone, God will bring you that freedom as they say the Gospel truth, and the truth is God and the truth is the word and that’s where freedom is.
RM: It’s a continual journey and a continual walk, not only then with your son, but then in each of your lives. So you went through your fire, and you were like, “okay, no more fires ahead!”
BT: No more fires [Laughter] Well, there was another fire that happened in chapter, what?
And that’s the thing. We are very authentic and real. And when it came to writing the book, I asked God, How much do I reveal? He said tell it all, be authentic. Tell it all. The good, the bad, the ugly. Tell it all. So I laid it all there. I don’t know what chapter it was. But it was shortly, two years after the foundation was formed, Brad woke up with a very large, a lump on his neck, like overnight. It was very weird. He went and had tests done and he ended up being diagnosed with throat cancer.
And that was tough. I was coming out of a Bible study when he called me on the phone and I hear it in his voice. He says, “I don’t want to tell you this, but I have throat cancer.” I looked to the Heavens and I’m like, I can’t do it again, God, I can’t, this is too much. And I just looked at Him, standing there in the parking lot, and all I heard Him say to me was, that’s still small voice again. “I got him.”
You will not die, but you will live and declare the works of the Lord with me and just praying life into him. It’s the thought process of the mind. You’ve got to work. It takes practice, but you’ve got to do it. No matter how bad you feel, you might not see the outcome right away, but you have to speak those words of faith. Like back in the day, when the lady in Jesus’ time, when the lady stood there and she was bleeding all the time, bleeding, bleeding, she’s just, “If I could touch his garment, I’ll be healed. If I could just touch his garment, I’ll be healed.”
She didn’t see it right away. You don’t see the healing right away. But she was speaking that faith in herself. And then when she did and Jesus says in the Bible, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” You have to walk in that peace and that faith that I am going to get through this. So that’s what we do with our families. And those that are ready to receive it. You have to receive it and walk it.
Well, that was two years after Mitchell passed. The stress, I think, finally yeah built up. And then, I had a mini seizure in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t even know it was a seizure, but make long story short, Brad takes me to the ER and I know the head ER, doctor there, which was great. I tell him I don’t know what’s happening and they discover a five centimeter mass on the left hemisphere of my head, and I’m like “what the?” And they said, well, this has to be removed. Obviously. Otherwise you’ll be dead in a year.
While I didn’t know what was going to happen next, I told Brad, “If I’m called home to be with Mitchell, then it’s time for me to go.” He didn’t want to hear that. He said, “You’re not going anywhere.” I came out of it, but I was paralyzed on my whole right side and I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t feed myself, I couldn’t move. That was scary. I was in rehab for six months, five days a week, six hours a day, learning how to pick up a glass, learning to pee. The whole right side was paralyzed. The enemy keeps trying to take us out, but God’s not through with us yet until He says He through with us.
RM: Amazingly you recovered… which makes me think when people are going through multiple different things, what’s the best way somebody from the outside can help? What brought you comfort? People never say the right things at the right time. It’s always through their lens.
So that’s a nice purchase knowing in your heart that if you do purchase the book and you can get it through anewcreation.org, or you can get a personal autograph copy and I will mail it out to you. And I usually just don’t sign it. I’ll lay my hand on the book. And whoever wrote in and just ask the Lord to fill me with what Stacy or Lucy or whatever wrote in, what do they need to hear from You? And I’ll write it. It’ll come through my spirit. I’ll have my Bible in front of me and just find a word that’ll bring encouragement and then I’ll sign it. And on the Mitchell Thorp Foundation website that you can find the book there too. You can order it on that. And we have events every year that people can get involved and come volunteer.
Over the last 13 years through our programs, we first started with one program, our Medical and Home Assistance and that’s to cover anything that’s not covered under insurance or anything in the home, to keep the lights, on food on the table, roof over their heads, so they’re not homeless. Catch that before they have to give up everything. And then the second program grew when we found that the families were leaving the hospitals and they want to continue more with therapy. So we got involved with the Healing and Rehabilitation Program. So we will help pay for families if they need to continue their therapy, counseling for the whole family, as well as the affected child, that’s usually for trauma. And then sibling support is under that program too, to help get school tutors to the children who are suffering at home or camps or anything to create some sense of normalcy. And then our third program came to us, called our Wheelchair, Conversion Vans. Not all our children need it, but it’s huge because families need to transport their child who is wheelchair bound safely. And then our fourth program, started out two years in, is our Youth Leadership Council. So we found out students around the area wanted to come and help with our events. Kids like helping kids. They just have a heart for that. And they knew how active we are in the community. So a lot of our students here need community service hours to graduate and Brad’s like “we need to start a youth leadership program.” So it’s now 10 years in, we started with 25 kids in the program, this last year, we had 60.
RM: What a fantastic way to be able to impact the community and beyond.
BT: In 2022, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce gave us the Community Impact award. We were Non-Profit of the Year in 2020… when COVID hit. So everything was virtual. They came and presented it to us here at the house, which was nice. So now that things were in person we got to accept the award.
RM: And Mitchell is a catalyst for it all.
BT: I know and when I says that power of one life, it’s like that ripple effect, it keeps touching and going on and touching the lives of other. And that’s why I write at the end of the book… when I was trying to write the ending, I said, really, there is no end.
There is no end because His spirit will live on and will continue to touch more. And so it has no end. I hope the book will touch many lives. I know it has so far to many readers who have picked it up, who will find courage and strength. That’s the one thing I wanted to mention because under every t-shirt under every bill of hat, we’ve always had Mitchell’s Bible verse, Joshua 1:9.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
It was the one that got us through when he started being sick and our pastor came to pray over him and he did a sermon around it and it was the one Bible verse that kept me strong. I share that Bible verse with everyone we meet. It’s on every t-shirt and at the run or anything that we do. It’s on his gravestone and it’s just everywhere because it’ll give you strength.
For more information visit: Mitchell Thorp Foundation or purchase to purchase: ANEW Creation