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Guest Blog: Your Precious Love – Remembering Patrick

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Editor’s note: In this season of giving and remembrance, Lisa O’Leary shares the story of her love, Patrick, and sends a message of love and support to the caregivers and family members of those with brain tumors. 


When it comes to love, they say when you know, you know. Well, my husband and I certainly proved that theory. Patrick and I fell in love hard and fast. I knew he was the one the first time we met for coffee, and he would have been the first to tell you the same. Patrick was the epitome of a gentleman and treated me and everyone around him with the utmost respect.

In September of 2014, Patrick suffered a seizure that landed him in the ICU. First they thought it was a stroke, then a benign cerebral deformity – all of which were scary but we knew at the end he would be okay. Unfortunately, they were wrong, and a short time later Patrick was diagnosed with glioblastoma. I promised him I would never leave his side and took a leave of absence from my job to assume the role of caretaker.

 “Patrick and I fell in love hard and fast.”

From then on our world became about surgeries, radiation, Temodar, and all that comes along with brain cancer. Patrick’s extremely complicated focal seizure condition which caused prolonged episodes of postictal psychosis led him to inpatient hospitalizations all in all totaling around five months. In the seemingly never ending confusion and turmoil, I made sure to be the one constant in his life. I made myself the best advocate I could be for his care and his number one cheerleader. There were many days when the man in front of me was not my Patrick, and I lived for the moments when I would see the switch in his eyes and he would come back to me. But no matter what we were faced with, there was never a day when Patrick didn’t know how loved he was.

image2Patrick and I were married on May 24, 2015. My brother-in-law performed the ceremony at our home, set to our favorite Motown hits. We knew we didn’t have long, but I wanted more than anything to know what it was like to be married to the love of my life and my best friend. Less than six weeks later on July 11, 2015, I held Patrick’s hand as he took his last breath.  This was just ten months after that first seizure turned our lives upside down.

Since we said goodbye, I have struggled with all of the things that grief brings – anger, depression, a feeling of listlessness and lack of meaning. But I know that the best way to honor our love story is to keep moving forward and do what I can to fulfill Patrick’s legacy of love and service. I want to make him proud every day. I hope that sharing our story helps other caregivers understand that they are not alone, and that there will be life again – maybe just with a different soundtrack.


Please consider a gift in the name of the ones you love to support the National Brain Tumor Society.

  • Jeff Weihl

    Lisa, I am sorry for your loss. It is amazing how close our stories are.
    Christine, my wife of 36 years had a seizure in January of 2015, we too thought it was a stroke and it was Glioblastoma. After the operation she was diagnose as Glioblastoma grade 4 given months to live. I stopped work and became her caretaker. Chris went thru 42 strait days of chemo and 29 days of radiation. She lost a lot of her speech and was difficult to walk. She was introduced to a clinical trial that had dissolved the tumor and in January of 2016 we were making plans to travel the country as she was feeling better and the trial was working. In May of 2016 she told me she was not feeling well and she was having trouble walking again. The cancer had come back with a vengeance and I lost the Love of my life on July 4th. 2016.
    My heart is broken, I am angry, I am mad, I wake up at night remembering holding her as she took her last breath, it is something I will never forget. I am happy she is in no more pain but, I am angry that she was taken from me so soon. People say time will heal, it won’t. Life is empty for me and I have to learn to live with it.
    The one thing I am proud of is, I was able to be with Chris for 18 months 24/7 and it brought us closer together. I miss her so much.

    • Lisa O’Leary

      Jeff, I am so very sorry for your loss. My hope was that others like me would read this and relate. I hate that you’re experiencing this, because it’s the worst thing I can imagine – but I am so grateful to have someone else identify and know that I’m not alone. I share all of your feelings, 16 months out from losing Patrick, and I imagine I will feel some of it forever. The pain is unbearable at times. But, I know Patrick would insist that I move forward and create a life for myself, so every day I keep trying. This isn’t the life I wanted, and it certainly wasn’t my plan – but it’s what I’ve been given, and I have to learn to make the best of it.

      All my best to you during this difficult holiday season, my friend.

      Lisa

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