Monthly Archives: November 2010

Sad, sad, so sad

A member of one of the support groups I facilitate has just died. She was 36 years old and had a daughter whose fifth birthday was exactly a week before. I feel incredibly saddened at the cutting short of such a young life.

Naomi was originally diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 28 and that’s when I first met her. She came to the support group all through her chemo and then called me a year later to let me know that she and her partner were getting married. Later on she excitedly told me that they were pregnant and everyone who knew her from the group was thrilled for them.

Imagine our shock when she returned to us a few years ago with cancer in her remaining breast; a different type and virulent – it had already spread to her bones. She came to our meetings every single week since then whenever she was well enough to do so. For a while oral chemo kept things stable, but then she noticed new lumps and bumps popping up all over her upper body that were very painful and more scans showed that the cancer was now in her liver as well. Reluctantly she agreed to IV chemo in the hope that she would at least see her little girl start school.

Her worst fears about going through IV chemo again were put to rest and this time round she coped reasonably well for six cycles. Her results were very encouraging so she declined ‘just one more round’. Unfortunately the good results were fleeting and within three weeks her cancer markers were through the roof again. They tried another type of drug but this almost finished her off so she made the decision to stop all further treatment and focus on having the best quality of life she could. Her oncologist fully supported her decision.

She came to a meeting three days before she died and told us how she had written letters for her daughter to be given to her on every birthday until she’s 18, she had made a list of her artwork and which pieces she wanted to go to which friends, she had filled in an Advance Health Care directive and finished off their tax! She said that she wasn’t worried about her little girl because she knew she had her daddy and four grandparents all ofwhom have been very involved in her care already. She felt sure that her husband would remarry one day and she hoped it wouldn’t be too long, because she wanted him to have a happy life and be able to provide their daughter with a mother influence.

I spoke to the group about how sad it was to hear Naomi’s story but that she was an inspiration to all of us and a shining example of what we hope to achieve in our groups by not being afraid to talk about the reality of her situation. She has been a wonderful teacher to all who have met her on the cancer journey and will always be remembered for her wit, intelligence, tenacity, humour and her “shining star” qualities.

Long may she shine; God speed darling girl.