A husband’s update

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.

 

Team,  

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. 

Stay tuned. 

With love. 

Mitchell

Fast friends.

So glad we’ve finally had the chance to meet. 

Damn straight.

Damn straight.

 

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About eastofparliament

Morning enthusiast. Food believer. Father and husband and person and stuff. Lives just east of Parliament.
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92 Responses to A husband’s update

  1. Our thoughts are with you, Naomi and Nate, Mitchell.

  2. Steph says:

    I love the “Ms.” crossed out to “Dr.” Awesome. That pic of Nate warms my heart. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who really appreciate you coming on here and posting. As my mom says about you: “Naomi chose well.” Love you guys.

  3. Naomi Alboim says:

    Dear dear Mitch,
    I am so glad that you are continuing Naomi’s blog despite how hard every day is for you.
    Naomi would be so very pleased.
    Our thoughts and love to you, Naomi, your beautiful Nate, and the army of friends and family who surround you.
    Naomi and David

  4. Kathy says:

    Thank you for sharing this update with us. I am so saddened by the news. My heart goes out to Naomi, and to all of you.

  5. Kori says:

    There are no words to express the sympathy, support and empathy I have for Naomi, Nate and for you. Thank you for this update. Through Naomi’s blog and through Robbie and lauren I feel a connection and inspiration from Naomi. My thoughts are with you and the entire family.

  6. jb says:

    There are not really words to express how special the Angel-Praw family is – but somehow you and Naomi have both found a way to communicate the magic that is your family to the wider world through your writing. Your collective spirit is an inspiration to everyone who is lucky enough to know you. Love you all so much.

  7. Mike Spivock says:

    So touching. So inspiring. Mitch, our thoughts and prayers are with you, Naomi and Nate.

  8. Lauren says:

    Thank you for the update. Sending lots of love your way. xo

  9. you don’t know me, I’ve just been following Naomi during my own treatment. I want to thank you for sharing your private moments with us. I will think of you everyday and wish you much peace in the days and weeks to come.

  10. NB says:

    Mitchell: thank you. Naomi: first rule about COMSFIGHTCLUB…you know the rest, doctor. Been a long time. Sending much love.

  11. Natalie Kallio says:

    Mitchell,

    I am an old grad school friend (as is my partner Neil) of Naomi’s and I just heard she is palliative. My heart and those of my family go out to you all. I had a wonderful chance meeting with Naomi in the fall, in Starbucks of all places (for two cultural studies nerds), and it was so amazing to see her and we had a good cry and a good laugh, and made promises to get together and have our boys meet. I also met your fabulous sister there. The last time I heard from N. was when you all couldn’t make it to Jack’s birthday (our five year old), but she was brimming with your plans for Mexico. I am so fucking sorry and I want you to send our love to Naomi and if we can visit, please let me know. We are here for anything you need, anytime.

  12. Ellen says:

    Thinking of Naomi, you and Nate constantly.

  13. Heather says:

    Nate, you don’t know me. But I knew Naomi at NYU and she was a light and an inspiration during the classes we shared. We also roomed together at the ACLA conference at Harvard with Melissa Aronyczk. Our sons are approximately the same age, too. I am so deeply sorry to hear this news as I’ve followed this blog closely. You are all in my thoughts and prayers and as I write this (before I go to off to teach a class) I can barely keep it together. Please know that Naomi’s impact runs deep and wide. She is an amazing, courageous woman.

  14. Lesley says:

    I am so sad for Naomi, for your family and for the world knowing that this AMAZING soul will soon be moving on.

    I knew Naomi in highschool. She was THE most popular girl in school. Everyone wanted to be like her or be her friend. She had per posse but unlike the other “mean girls”, she was kind to everyone and so comfortable in her own skin even during such an awkward time like highschool. I knew she was going to go on to do incredible things. And she did. Even during her most difficult moments like kicking cancer’s ass, she is full of grace.

    Naomi always had an aura about her that made you feel like she didn’t belong to this world and we only had her for borrowed time. I wish her peace and no pain as she makes this next transition.

    All my best wishes and prayers,
    Lesley

    • I cannot tell you how much notes like this one mean to me, and far more importantly, how much I know they will mean to Nate in the years ahead. You paint a beautiful picture Lesley, thank you so much sharing.

  15. Margrit Stenge says:

    Mitchell, I have known about your tragic circumstances ever since Naomi was diagnosed. I cannot tell you how much and how often you and your family are in my thoughts. This last post made me cry and I can only send you my very best wishes. From personal experience I know that this too shall pass and much better times are ahead for you and sweet little Nate. And the memory of beautiful Naomi will remain with all of us, even if we only knew here through her posts. Margrit (Stenge)

  16. Ilene says:

    We all love you and support you during this difficult time.
    Ilene Hollander and family.

  17. Kim O'Donnell says:

    Thinking about your family at this very sad time. What a special women Naomi is and her spirit will live on through your self and Nate. Life surly isn’t fair and no one deserves this. I wish her all the peace and to be comfortable as she becomes a angel. Please trust that she will watch closely over your family. Sending you all the strength in the world.

  18. Ryan says:

    Keep punching cancer in its stupid face Naomi!! Lot’s of love from Olga and I.

  19. sheldon Cohen says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with you all. Sheldon and Freda Cohen

  20. Claire Anderson says:

    Hi, you don’t know me but I am a friend of Duff’s. He called me while he was there visiting you and Naomi. I met Naomi two or three times. I just want to tell you that I am thinking of the three of you, you are a beautiful family, and I wish you peace.

  21. Hafeez and Sharifa Habib says:

    I know we’ve only met you a few times (via Tim and Nicole), but I just wanted to let you know that our thoughts and prayers are with Naiomi and your entire family!

  22. annepetrie says:

    Dear Mitchell
    Thank you so much for letting us know about Naomi and her journey. I send all my thoughts and love to her, to you and Nate and to all your family and friends.
    Anne

    • Thanks Anne. If you’re ever in Toronto… maybe one day our paths will cross. And thank you so much for those photos you sent. They are wonderful. And no doubt, they will be shared with and appreciated by young Nathaniel. In good health, along with best wishes. Mitchell.

  23. Karena says:

    Much love and strength to all of you.

  24. Zavi says:

    Dear Mitchell,
    We met only a little bit before our babies were born, but Naomi and I spent a few early mother/maternity times together. Naomi always amazed me, she is so incredibly brilliant, beautiful and strong. Thank you for posting updates. Our thoughts are with you, Nate and Naomi.
    Zavi, Wayne, and Tom.

  25. Mel says:

    Naomi, Nate and Mitchell…we send you our love and are praying for you.

  26. Jenny Åkerbäck says:

    Dear Mitchell, you don’t know me, I am a Swede that worked with Naomi in South Africa nearly 10 years ago. I can still remember her happy laugh and the aoura she had around her. I am so, so sad to read your update. I have followed Namis blog and I have though of you often. My toughts are with you and I am sending strenght and LOVE to all three of you. / Jenny

  27. Caroline Cooke says:

    Mitchell,
    I only met you and Naomi once in Seville with Liz. Even through the haze and whirlwind of my wedding preparations at the time, that day is so vivid to me and stands out as one of my best days for laughter, fun, and camaraderie. I am thinking of you and Naomi and Nate and am so very sorry to hear this news. Prayers and thoughts from Spain, Caroline.

    • Twice actually. We spent time on your family farm, dining on steaks cattle-side as well 🙂 Both that day and our afternoon of sangria, red wine and tapas in Seville are memories that Naomi and I would recount from time to time. With more laughter and still more smiles. Wonderful memories.

      Caroline… thank you so much for reaching out. I hope EVERYTHING is awesome where you are.

  28. Patricia Ing says:

    Mitchell, loads of love and hugs to your strong and wonderful family. My thoughts are with you, Naomi and Nate.

    Patricia

  29. Holly Wagg says:

    I went to grad school with you, Naomi. You were part of our geeky tribe. Part of this small community of like-minded people who connected to one another over a few years at a certain point in time. We haven’t seen or talked to one another in years. But I’ve silently been here rooting for you, your husband and son (Nate is a few months younger than my Addison).

    You are an incredibly special human being. I remember you fondly. I remember your laugh. You’re one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Good to the core.

    When I think of you, I think of joy. You are joy. Naomi is joy. You bring joy to everyone around you. I hope that your family and friends will help to find and bring that same joy, even small pieces joy, to you every day. And that they’ll always remember the imprint you’ve made on the people whose lives yours has intersected with. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  30. Jenny åkerbäck says:

    Dear Mitchell, you don’t know me. I am a Swede that worked with Naomi in South Africa nearly 10 years ago. I still remember her happy laugh and the aura of friendliness she had around her. My thoughts are with you all and it makes me so, so sad to receive your update. Jenny

  31. Tiffany says:

    Sending love from a snowy New York. Naomi is a true angel. I first met her through my best friend Steve, and I wish I could have gotten to be better friends with her through the years since we overlapped in NYC for a while. I am so grateful for your post in this difficult time and wish little Nate a lifetime of wonderful fond memories of the inspiration that is his mother.

  32. Through the tears you made me smile. My love and admiration for being such a support and inspiration. To all those who love you from far away we send love today and always.
    17 hours ago

  33. Julia says:

    Dear Mitchell, thank you so much for this update. I met Naomi during my internship in Pretoria, South Africa back in 2004. We spent quite some time together – also with Kristy – exploring the breathtaking landscape of South Africa on weekend trips. I remember Naomi as a very special person with a lot of charisma. It was always very inspiring and fun to be together with her (for example during her first “driving lessons” with my gear shift car in left-hand traffic in South Africa) 🙂
    I am thinking of Naomi a lot these days and send all my love to her and to you and Nate!
    Julia (from Switzerland)

  34. A friend from the past says:

    Mitchell, we’ve never met, but I went to highschool in Vancouver with Naomi. She is a year younger than me, but I still remember how much of an impact she made on all of her classmates. She is a beautiful person inside and out. I’ve followed her blog since the beginning and I want you and her to know that I think you guys are the most bravest, caring and honest people. It’s amazing how you let us into your world of struggles and successes. My prayers are with Naomi, you and your son.

  35. Kelly says:

    Dear Mitchell: I’ve been following Naomi’s blog since I was diagnosed w/ breast cancer in August, and I’ve turned to it many times (especially her post “The Art of Slowing Down”), totally inspired by how she was able to wrestle with the fear and uncertainty and focus on the best parts of life. Ever since her last post, I’ve checked for an update almost daily. I wish I knew the right thing to say, but please know I’m keeping you in my thoughts.

    • I think you’ve just said exactly the right thing. Thank you. Know that she’s inspired me plenty too. And I don’t think you and I are alone.

      I send you strength and energy and honesty and humility and power in support of your wrestling matches. For the win…

  36. You don’t know me but through Naomi’s blog and her beautiful, heartfelt posts I feel like I’ve come to know her and a little about your amazing family. I was worried when her blog went silent. She is truly an inspiration. Thanks for updating us and wishing you strength in the days ahead.
    Effin cancer.

  37. Alana Lipton says:

    Thinking of you and your beautiful family, Mitchell. Your post is beautifully written (not that I would expect any less) and my thoughts and good wishes are with you throughout. Lots of love xo

  38. Mary Henley says:

    Those photos are beautiful, Mitchell. Thank you so much for the update. You, Nate and Naomi are in our thoughts always. We are sending much love to your whole circle of family and friends. It’s lovely to hear that this time has been a blessing for your little boy and his wonderful mom. With love, Mary

  39. Nigel & Ritu says:

    Dear Mitch,
    Sorry to hear about the cancers your wife, Naomi, has been fighting. Our prayers & thoughts are with Naomi, Nate, yourself & your families.

  40. Franck says:

    Beautiful post & beautiful pics! Wishing you, Naomi and your families all the best…

  41. ga says:

    It seems like the world is losing a stand-up scholar, mother, and human being. I only know Naomi through reading of her research interests in the truth and reconciliation commission, and then finding her blog here, and hearing her rich, contemplative, confident voice. Our sons are the same age.May god bless you and keep you, naomi, mitchell, and nate. may god make his face to shine upon you. may god strengthen you, and give you peace.

  42. Mike and Alicia says:

    Mitch – We are so incredibly saddened to hear this news. I know there’s nothing that can be said or done to make this any easier, but please know you’re in our thoughts and prayers. I’ve been paralyed with sadness since I read this earlier today. Wishing your family strength and grace as you manage this transition.

    All our love,
    Mike, Alicia and Theo

  43. Dale says:

    Words cannot adequately express my thoughts at this difficult time. Cherish the time you have together. Though the situation has changed I will always consider all of you to still be family. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your whole family.

  44. Jen Elliott says:

    Mitchell – Thank you so much for providing an update on Naomi’s status. She has been on the minds of the 5B staff at the Western since her departure in January. I cannot express how deeply sorry I am for this turn of events. Words cannot express my sadness. During Naomi’s stay in October we were chatting during one of our physio sessions and she expressed how “blessed” she was even in these circumstances to have such wonderful family and friends and for life’s small blessings. You both shared such a positive outlook on life even during its darkest hours. So I want to say thank you. Thank you for changing my outlook on life and for opening my eyes to life’s small blessings. I now hug my little one tighter, appreciate every special moment with her and my family more and am more thankful for what Iife has given me. I am honoured to have met you both. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Naomi and your precious little one.

  45. Emilie says:

    Beautiful blog and very emotional post. You have a strength that most of us can only admire and look up to. Wishing you strength and optimism and many of Nate’s smiles and dances.

  46. terri says:

    Hi Mitch,
    It’s Terri, my time with the two of you has been short but nonetheless a pleasure. Your love toward your wife is something to be admired. I usually like to tell people like yourself, “my, you are so lucky to have had such precious time together, a great gift indeed”. This is life! and those who recognize gifts given are those who are fortunate enough to have experienced life to it’s fullest. This will take time but it is a fact that Naomi is a gift and so is your son. You are blessed!
    Terri

  47. Suzanne Norman says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours during this difficult time… Your family’s courage and strength is an inspiration to all of us.

  48. Suzanne Norman says:

    Your courage and strength are an inspiration to all of us… Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours during this difficult time…

  49. Lisa Matsuzaki says:

    So incredibly heartbroken to hear this news. Thank you Mitchell for posting – you are clearly an incredible partner and father. Naomi is in my thoughts constantly and I’m sending love to all three of you.

  50. Lorna Roth says:

    Hi Mitch – if it is possible to read this to Naomi, I would much appreciate it. My heart goes out to all of you. Courage. Lorna Roth (one of Naomi’s MA Professors at Concordia).

    Hi Naomi,

    I just found out about your health challenges (through Nat Kallio and Rae Staseson) and am so sorry to hear this news. I adored working with you when you were doing your MA at Concordia and often remembered our conversational times together. I was so happy to hear that you got your doctorate at NYU and that you were back in Toronto – happily married. Unfortunately, I never kept up with the details of your life. For example, I have no idea what work you undertook upon your return to Canada. These things happen – we become so busy with our own over-the-top intensely work/stress times that we fail to maintain continuity with all the people we once held dear in our lives.

    The blog you began is deeply moving and the photos of you, Mitch, and Nate are beautiful. Finally, I get to see an image of Mitchell, about whom you described to me years ago. And Nate is just adorable – a very sweet-looking boy with what appears to be a sensitive and stimulating character as well as a delightful personality. Who’s surprised at this? You and the family must spend a lot of time “kvelling” over him.

    I want you to know that I am thinking about you often these days and deeply hope that you have come to a peaceful state of mind and spirit.

    A big loving hug to you and your family as you go through these difficult transitional moments.

    Xx
    Lorna Roth

  51. Catherine Pringle says:

    Mitchell,
    How incredibly brave and strong all of you are. I am so sorry for what you Naomi and Nate are going through. Sending you lots of love and and healthy vibes. Thinking of you.
    Catherine

  52. Laura says:

    Mitchell,

    Read your post on a friend’s FB page. There are no words…

    I want to share a blog with you that I think you might find worth reading.

    http://lifeasawidower.com

    Love and peace in the days and months and years ahead.

    Laura

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