Dear friends, my name is Mitchell. I am Naomi’s husband.
Since my wife last posted, things have changed. I’m writing here to update you to her story, to honour her intentions for Everybodyhearts.com, and to extend my personal thanks for the support this community has offered… the impact of which has been felt beyond measure.
Here is some of what’s been going on:
- The sinus symptoms Naomi described in mid-December eventually gave way to a far more sinister, persistent and escalated pain.
- Initial MRI results set our minds at ease ruling out new cancer or infection. Let the countdown to Mexico begin!
- Days after those results were delivered, we found ourselves in the Toronto Western emergency room, Naomi in pain, and we all looking for answers. Mexico a-no-go.
- Christmas and New Year were spent at the holiday-short-staffed Western.
- A spinal tap to test fluid and a head surgery to biopsy the brain and lining were part of the exploration/discovery.
- The first week of 2014 set the stage for a post-sinus infection diagnosis. Cancer. Again. This time racing through the brain’s lining.
- Naomi moved to the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and began a five-day course of brain radiation during which she suffered a stroke that left her bed-bound.
- January 9th Naomi checked in to PMH’s Palliative ward.
Throughout this period I kept family and friends updated via email.
Below is my last update sent on February 7th. Stay tuned here for further updates.
We’ve been asked to leave the Princess Margaret Hospital.
PMH’s palliative ward is a short-term facility. As per floor and hospital policy, once treatment has been received, patients are expected to move on… either to a hospice, a home or to a final resting place.
At the time of Naomi’s last round of radiation treatment (Jan 6-10) we were told that she was likely to only have days left. The treatment was a medical Hail Mary of sorts intended to buy what would at best be a small window of time. Days turned into weeks. The time we sought to buy was delivered. And now, we’ve overstayed our welcome at the hospital, so we’re out. Moving on up if you will – closer to our home, and to a newer facility.
The treatment worked. We know this not because of follow up scans or tests. There are no more tests or scans on the horizon. There are no more treatment options for Naomi. And so, putting her through the rigorous process of CTs, MRIs and whatnot is no longer on the table… only her comfort and peace matters now. That said, we do know treatment worked. For the past four weeks her pain subsided, her moments of lucidity returned, and now, a full month later, Naomi remains with us… unwilling to leave her circle of loved ones on anyone’s schedule but her own. Naomi.
This past month’s treatment success bought time that so many of us will cherish… an opportunity for goodbyes and moments. A time when friends from the varied walks of Naomi were able to meet, and connect and grieve – through a New Year, a last birthday, a groundhog day — Naomi unlike anyone I’ve ever met brings people together. Even now.
The most valuable thing this month afforded us was to give our Nate an opportunity to develop his own understanding of this horror. I can’t fully articulate how generous a gift this has been. And while sadness most certainly still lies ahead, my son understands so much now and has been given the foundations to build on that understanding in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Nate knows his mother is sick. He knows the prognosis is not good. He knows that she has cancer and that cancer is a very different ‘sick’ than what daddy had last week, and what we all sometimes have (specifically as listed by Nate… bubby and babba and eric and zaidy and jeff and jason and pamela and matthew and mutty and jonathan and farji and lauren…)
Nate will remember the extra time he got to share with mom in hospital, and that he got to say so many more I love yous and goodbyes. As he grows older, he’ll know that he was there for Naomi in her time of greatest need, that he made her cards, gave her unprompted hugs and kisses, and magically made smiles where smiles were otherwise absent and unexpected. Only Nate could have done this.
One week ago, while visiting Naomi in her hospital room Nate asked for music and kicked off a most epic dance party for Naomi, Naomi’s mom and me. He twirled vigorously. I killed it, obviously. Saeko looked on with grandmotherly approval… and Naomi threw her one able-to-move, fuck-you-cancer arm, way up into the air… and waived (or pulsated it somewhat uncomfortably) like she just didn’t care. This son carries forward his mother’s torch. Only Nate.
Where does this leave us?
As expected, the effects of the radiation have worn off and the symptoms of the disease are once again on a forward march… likely pissed off at Naomi for having again punched it in its stupid face.
Effective now, Dr. Naomi Simone Angel is resting in Bridgepoint Hospital’s 4th floor palliative wing. Room 4.121.
So glad we’ve finally had the chance to meet.