Monday, October 03, 2005


I’m sorry to have to write that Mom passed away the afternoon of Saturday, October 1. She died peacefully and painlessly with family and friends, including my sisters and me. She was 66.

It seems odd to say that Mom’s death came as a surprise but, until even hours before the end, we and her physicians always saw a reasonable path to recovery. In fact, I’d flown to southern California just three days earlier to help move furniture in preparation for her return home from the hospital. But her body had simply had enough.

As far as we know, Mom died free of cancer. She beat it. However, she took steroids to control brain inflammation caused by the brain tumor and its radiation treatment. Administered in high doses over a long time, they were as damaging to her body as cancer would have been. The steroids had to be reduced, renewed inflammation put pressure on unexpected parts of her brain, and the end came quickly.

Mom never regretted moving to Hollywood. Despite her struggle in recent months, I don’t think I ever saw her happier living anywhere else. She loved her new neighborhood: the brilliant bougainvillea spilling over her back fence, the giant avocado tree next door that dropped guacamole hailstones into her yard, the towering palm at the curb, the yellow curry dish from the Thai restaurant around the corner. This was where she needed to be.

The publication of “Mom’s Cancer” will go ahead. Mom always sought purpose in her life and, in recent months, her suffering. She shared in the production of “Mom’s Cancer”: the drafts, proofs, correspondence with my publisher and the public. She wrote the book’s Afterword. Nothing made Mom more proud or happy than hearing from readers who said her story had helped them or that they’d quit smoking because of her. She told me she thought she’d found her purpose after all. I didn’t disagree.

She lived and died well. I will miss making new memories with her.


Anonymous said...

Brian --

My most sincere symapthies to you, Lis, Brenda, and the rest of the family. Please know that all of you are in my prayers. My wife sends her good thoughts and caring as well.

I met your mom maybe twice, the last time just before last Christmas when I visited Lis at the house for the first time, and for only the 2nd time in probably the last 10 years.

Your mom was so sweet and so funny and so welcoming that day. She made me feel so much more at ease at walking into such an unfamiliar situation, meeting people I had forgotten I had met. Sounds like I got to meet her as she typically is -- a genuinely good-hearted lady. I'm very glad I got to re-meet her.

I hope all of you find peace, warmth, good memories, and love in the face of all of this.

And thank you again for putting Mom's Cancer down in ink and paper, for all of us to read and know.

God bless all of you --
Mark I. Melo, Esq.

Sunnyside said...

Sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours during this very difficult time.

Lynne said...

Your mom did beat cancer. Even if cancer caused one's death, fighting and finding purpose means you did not let it stop you='beating it'.

Mom's legacy is not only the inspirational story she lived, but her wonderful children and the works that you all will accomplish.

I see her smile in each of your faces, as well as the sparkle in her eyes. She lives on. She lived well.

Lis, remember the messages you received from your kitty. I can't wait to hear the ones you get from Mom.

Blessings and peace to you all.

MoDigli said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom. I was always impressed with her story, and really the story of your whole family. You are all amazing. And maybe that's because you had such an amazing mom!

I've been reading your sister's blog for a few months now, and although I'm just a member of the blog-o-sphere, really felt that I got to know your family through the blog, and the comic. I'm very sorry for your loss.

One thing that impressed me so much through these past months is how all of you just reach and go for your dreams. Mom moving to Hollywood, Sis and her screenwriting, NurseSis and her advocating, and you with your comic and Eisner Award. It's such an inspiring story all around.

Your whole family will be in my prayers, and I will light a candle for mom's spirit. God bless!

Brian said...

Brian -

My friend is working as your editor and introduced me to your incredible work and your family's amazing story some time ago. He called to share the sad news yesterday.

My sincere condolences to you and your family. I hope it's not an inappropriate thing to say at this time, but I wish you all the best with the book. Your mom will be around to touch many more lives because of it. I look forward to sharing her story with everyone I know.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss.

-Brian Jacob, NYC

Angelena said...

Brian, I am so sorry. I read your sisters blog and I wanted to send my sympathies to you and your family as well. Hugs to all of you. My prayers are with you and your family in this difficult time.

Louie said...

It so happens that my dad died of cancer on this date in 1982, making it doubly disheartening this morning for me to learn about your loss. I read your wonderful "Mom's Cancer" comic back in April, and I've been a frequent visitor to your family's websites since then. Thank you for having shared her life and your lives with us. You are an extraordinary family, and the book will be a wonderful part of her legacy. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

patricia said...


My thoughts are with you and your family.

I agree with what Modigli said; everyone in your family has amazing strength and courage and grace, and it is very inspiring to see how each of you made something beautiful out of this heartache.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Brian, I am so very sorry. You have told your story so well that I feel a personal loss, and I grieve for you and "Kid Sis" and especially your mother.

Knowing that you and she have provided courage for many people who otherwise might have lacked it is probably small solace right now. But you have.

Robin (from racs) said...

Brian, I am so sorry to hear of your family's loss. Your mom -- with the help of you and your sisters -- has inspire thousands of people and will continue to change (and even save) the lives of thousands more. I salute all of you.

Peter B. Steiger said...


My heart goes out to you, Nurse Sis, and Kid Sis. You have made us all a part of your family by sharing your mom's incredible story of survival and hope against all odds. My prayers are with the most wonderful family I've never met.

Peter B. Steiger
Cheyenne, WY

Dandy said...

I read the content of your website just now while looking for more info for the treatment of my mom's cancer. Sad to know that your mom passed away. But she won the battle! Hope you could give me a call and maybe encourage me in this journey with a mother who also has cancer. God bless you and hope you continue to keep your mom's legacy alive!

Anonymous said...


I heard about your mother through a friend. She sounded like an amazing and inspiring woman. I know she had an impact upon my friend and I'm sure upon thousands
of others. I look forward to reading about her story and legacy.

I've said a daily prayer to/for my father who passed 16 years ago of cancer and to all others who have gone before me. I will now pray for your mother as well.

Thoughts, prayers, and blessings to you and your family --


arfenarf said...


I'm terribly sorry to hear that your mom has passed away. Your story of her fight has already helped many, many people, and her spirit will infuse the coming book with strength and faith in living well.

My prayers and best wishes go to you and your family.

Kate in Victoria

Jim Strain said...

Dear Brian:
Through your work, you allowed us anonymous readers to know your delightful mom, your sisters, and you. We welcomed all of you into our hearts, and now we grieve with you. My warmest thoughts are with you and your family.

Bill Lentz said...

You post and the wonderful pictures brought a tear to my eye, even though I know you only through r.a.c.s and the websites. My sympathies and thoughts are with you.


Chris Clarke said...

I am so sorry, Brian. My condolences to you and your wonderful family.

Sherwood Harrington said...

... and, of course, I didn't mean to leave Nurse Sis out of my first comment. It's hard to edit text accurately when your eyes are stinging.

f. said...

Dear Brian,
I stumbled upon your comic some months ago when my dad was just diagnosed. It served as one of my inspirations and it helped me during the most dreadful stage-- the first few weeks of his diagnosis. I want to thank you for sharing it with us. I am heartbroken with the news of your mom's passing. Please accept my sincerest condolences. My thoughts are with Barbara.

Lunchmoney aka Steve James said...

I have been following Moms' story since 2004 when I was care giver for and life Partner of Diane as she fought her battle against Leiomyosarcoma. I am at a loss for the words to express how sad I am at her passing. She was so kind in the words she wrote to me after Dianes death---

"You found my site and for some reason, I hit the return to see who had come by to check me out. Thank you, Steve. There was (and still is) no way to stop the tears after reading the poem - not tears of self-pity, but somehow of relief. It is another affirmation of goodness and love. Love, Light and Gratitude. "Mom"------

I have to believe that there is a special place for her now and I know there is a special place in my heart for her, always.

My prayers of comfort to all who knew and loved her. Tonight I lit a candle in her memory:

The Dummy said...

Brian, Kid Sis - I just found out, and I just wanted to say I'm sorry to hear of the news. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Brian Fies said...

Thanks, all. Your comments and support are very welcome and appreciated.

Brian Jacob, thanks especially for writing. Charlie is a good man and amazing champion of my book. I had no idea people like him worked in the publishing industry. I think I got lucky.

Steve, it means a lot to see my mother's words reflected back from you. Thank you for sharing that.

Thanks again, everyone. We're getting by.