Our dear, sweet Pamela passed away on September 23, 2019, three weeks after an undiagnosed liver tumor started bleeding. Read the story below and updates for the whole story.
A Memorial service and Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, October 12 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 400 McArthur St., Ottawa. There will be a memorial at 4 pm, followed by a pot-luck dinner and an open mic so that her many musician friends can offer tributes in their own way. Details to follow.
Another Memorial gathering will be held in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia at a later date.
Pamela Holm (my sister) went to BC for a training program in late August, where health issues that she was starting to get investigated got worse. As planned, she flew to Calgary for the Labour Day weekend with our sister Carol, and was definitely unwell. While flying back to Ottawa, the undiagnosed tumour in her liver erupted. She went straight to Emergency at Ottawa Hospital on September 2, where the tumour was found to be occupying 2/3 of her liver. That night an interventional radiology procedure to stop the bleeding was performed.
Four days later, still in hospital, she had a stroke, paralyzing the left side of her body.
She had the best medical intervention available anywhere. Within minutes of the stroke, a world-class stroke team was with her. She had another procedure that removed most of the clot in her brain, a second liver embolization, and another to put a filter in a vein above the legs to prevent clots in the legs from moving to the organs.
However, her condition continued to be very serious. No metastasis was found, but the tumor (HCC, hepatocellular carcinoma) was in some of the blood vessels of the liver, ruling out surgery or transplant. See updates below for more details.
Options were considered and then ruled out, as Pam was in too fragile a state. Doctors had a difficult time juggling contradictory needs of her conditions - i.e. the liver was throwing blood clots which showed up in her brain (the stroke), lung (pulmonary embolism) and legs (thrombosis). But anti-coagulants could not be given in any large amount because of the liver bleed. It was a perfect storm that left her vulnerable to any sudden, potentially fatal, thrombosis event.
Pam had worked hard at building up her Music Therapy practice and establishing her credentials, and in the last year or two she moved a tiny bit away from the stress of living on the financial edge. Being self-employed, however, she had no sick pay and no benefits. She also did a lot of volunteer work, and often took care of herself last.
We first launched this GoFundMe campaign for Pam so that she wouldn't have to worry about covering her rent and basic expenses for a while. For that, it truly worked, and she was most grateful. It really allowed her to relax about money and focus on the day-to-day demands of her body. We hoped she would be able to rehabilitate considerably from the stroke, which would require paraphernalia and professional support.
Even more importantly, the GoFundMe campaign gave her a giant GROUP HUG so that she really understood that she was loved, and not in this world alone. She felt held up by her community and family near and far. She could feel the love, and said so repeatedly, even in her last conversation before she fell into an unresponsive state and could no longer speak.
She got wonderful palliative care, accompanied by family and friends every step of the way.
Pam died peacefully on Monday, September 23, 2019.
Funds raised will go into paying bills and final expenses. Please know that the financial support she received uplifted her and eased her mind, and also that of her family.