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Honoring Naomi, cancer patient who brought light and joy to Mary Bridge Children’s

In April 2019, Naomi Bisesto fractured her leg. After a series of blood work, IV’s, MRIs and more, she received an unexpected diagnosis – osteosarcoma.

By Kortney Scroger

In April 2019, Naomi Bisesto fractured her leg. After a series of blood work, IV’s, MRIs and more, she received an unexpected diagnosis – osteosarcoma.

For the next three years, Naomi became part of the Mary Bridge Children’s family. According to one of her oncologists, Becky Johnson, MD, Naomi was a champ through her first round of treatment.

“During her first round, she had lots of hospitalizations; it was really intense, but she powered through,” Dr. Johnson says. “As soon as she was allowed, she was swimming in the Sound, volunteering at the hospital. Really living her best life – full force.”

Unfortunately, the cancer returned, resulting in the amputation of her leg and her eventual passing on July 16, 2021 at the age of 19.

“I had the honor of working with Naomi after she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 16 up until she passed away,” Mary Bridge Children’s Social Worker Jessica Pabst says. During the last year of Noami's life, I met with her often, sometimes weekly. She was a bright spot in my week, and I always enjoyed our meetings, even when the conversations were difficult. Naomi was also a member of the teen oncology support group that I facilitate. She loved attending and was always so supportive to the other group members.”

During her inpatient stays, Naomi would love to play Phase 10 with Child Life Specialist Jesse Bartlett, as well as tell jokes. Naomi herself proclaimed that finding a sense of humor about her cancer helped her manage her stress and anxiety associated with the illness.

“When I first met Naomi, I could see that she was a very kind kid and coped really well with every curveball that was thrown at her,” Jesse remembers.  

Naomi showed her kindness during her inpatient stays by using her musical and creative talents to bring joy to others. She would play music for her care team and would leave presents around the hospital for patients and employees to find.

“Naomi’s resilience and positive outlook on life helped me be more grateful,” Jazmyne Graham, RN says. “She always found something to make other people laugh and smile,  even when she wasn’t having a good day. Naomi would make these small, intricate figurines out of clay for everyone that she met. She would leave them around the hospital or gift them to specific people. I still have one at home.”

As much as the care teams loved Naomi, the feeling was mutual.

“I just love everybody,” Naomi said “They're my family. They all worked so well together as a team. It's not just one individual person necessarily that supported me through — it's between Kristen with Olaf who are amazing, all the Child Life specialists, social worker Jessica — I love her, too — and then for psychology, I had Dr. Beilke. Plus, the doctors and nurses. Just all of them. I definitely have built a lot of friendships through the stuff that happened.”

Before Naomi passed, she was very excited to share her story and help other kids and teens affected by cancer. In fact, she was studying to become a nurse, so she could provide the same medical care to others that she experienced during her stays at Mary Bridge Children’s. Her sage advice was to accept help when needed and to be adaptable.

“One thing I definitely learned is, when you're in situations like this, you have to realize that  at one point or another, you have to rely on the people around you,” Naomi advised. “Don’t be afraid to actually lean on them when you need to because they're happy to support you. Recognize that you're going to change, and things are going to change. Even though it can be sad, you're going to have to find a new pattern.  You're going to have to find a new rhythm and march onto that beat instead.”

True to her advice, Naomi found that beat and kept marching. Even in her final days, she was constantly thinking about others and even used her Make-A-Wish wish to get a dog for her sister.

“As we were remembering her life in support group, some of the members used the following words to describe her: joy, light, resilient,” Jessica says. “Her middle name was ‘Hope,’ which fit her so perfectly. I know that she would ‘hope’ that her family and friends continue to live their lives to the fullest, never take things for granted and love one another well.”

On behalf of everyone you reached during your time with Mary Bridge Children’s, rest in peace, Naomi.

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