When Tricia Somers went to her doctor for another visit, complaining of strange stomach pains that were bothering her, the doctor ordered a CT scan for the 40-year-old mother. When the results came back, the Somers family would be devastated with the news as well as the prognosis.
The CT scan revealed spots on Tricia’s liver as well as a nasty tumor in her abdomen. As it turned out, Tricia had something called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a highly rare vascular cancer. But what would happen to her 8-year-old son Wesley? That burning question bothered Tricia a lot…
At first, Tricia just assumed she had eaten something that hadn’t agreed with her. She waited a few days, but when the stomach pains got worse, she decided to go and pay her doctor a visit. When the doctor ruled out food poisoning and other potential issues he decided to call for a CT scan to err on the side of caution.
When the results from the scan came back, everyone was shocked to learn that Tricia had a rare form of cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. The disease is painfully rare and usually doesn’t affect people who have just turned 40. Tricia was immediately admitted to the Community General Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma is a rare type of vascular tumor that affects the epithelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels. These tumors most commonly affect the soft tissues of the liver and lungs but as they are so rare, can often go undetected for extended periods, even years.
In Tricia’s case, her cancer had been spreading for a while and doctors weren’t sure how long she would survive. Having settled into the ward at the Community General Hospital as best she could, Tricia clicked with a nurse who cared for her – and the nurse even shared the same first name. Tricia Somers and Tricia Seaman soon became friends and would chat for hours.
While the two women, brought together by fate shared a first name, they also had other things in common. They were perfect strangers, but Somers would often confide in the nurse, telling her that she had an 8-year-old son called Wesley but not much family to speak of.
Tragically for Tricia, she was a single mother and both her parents had died many years ago. She had a sibling, but she lived in another state and Tricia was more or less alone. Wesley’s father took a limited interest in his son’s life and upbringing and was mainly absent.
Tricia was in a dire situation and knew in her heart of hearts that she didn’t have a whole bunch of time left in this world. Her cancerous tumors had spread and were spreading further, and she was already at an advanced stage. Her new friend Tricia, an oncology nurse at the hospital, tried to make her feel better, but Tricia was in a bad way.
Somers explained that the first time she met her namesake, she had an overwhelming feeling. “I remember when she came into the room, it was just an overwhelming feeling I had over me. It’s really hard to understand – it was just a warmth,” Somers said. “I felt calm, I felt at peace, I felt like this woman is going to be the one who’s going to take care of me.”
While the two Tricias chatted, Somers often talked about her son Wesley, often crying about who would look after him and care for him if she died. She was always on the phone making arrangements for friends to collect him from school as she lay dying in the hospital.
Nurse Seaman explained in her softly-spoken voice, according to a Today report, “I felt very sorry for her because I could see her situation was quite serious and also it had to be completely overwhelming knowing you had a little boy and you were in the hospital,” she said. The nurse would often go and visit Somers even on nights when she wasn’t assigned to offer words of support and comfort.
While the cancer had spread further to Somers’ abdomen wall, she was eventually discharged from the hospital. She told her friend nurse Seaman that the results weren’t good but then turned to her to ask an important question. “I’m really glad you stopped by because I have something I need to ask you,’” Seaman recalled. “She said, ‘If I die, will you raise my son?’”
Seaman already has three teenage girls and a 10-year-old boy. But having talked the proposal over with her husband, the couple decided they were open to the idea. As it stood, their son Noah was feeling seriously outnumbered by all those older sisters so an 8-year-old brother would be just perfect.
Wanting to Help
The couple had applied to adopt or foster just before Tricia fell ill. “We need to try to help this woman,” Seaman recalled her husband Dan saying. “We just need to follow whatever it is God wants us to do here,” he said. With that, the Seamans invited Tricia and Wesley over for a festive meal during Easter.
When Tricia and her son were invited for another meal on Mother’s Day she was unable to attend as she was reacting badly to the chemotherapy she was having. Tricia found herself disoriented, dehydrated and her legs were so swollen she could hardly walk. It was at this point that doctors told Tricia she needed to return for full-time care at the hospital.
It was at that moment when Tricia turned to her new friend and asked her to take Wesley into her home. The Seamans did one better than that and took both Tricia and her son Wesley to live with them in their family home. The two families have been living together ever since and Tricia has even shown some signs of improvement.
While doctors have already informed Tricia at the time that she may only have a few weeks to live, she felt comforted by the support and love given to her by the Seamans. “She’s just being loved by a family, and she’s a part of a family, and that makes a huge difference,” Nurse Seaman said.
For Tricia Somers’ part, she feels that her new friends saved her life. “Ultimately, this family has saved my life because I was told in May that I may have a month, and I’m still here,” Somers said. The kids have all bonded amazingly well too, making both Tricias very happy mothers.
While Wesley and Noah spend most of their time playing Legos and superheroes together, they also make sure to leave time for some Fortnite on the Xbox. They even share bunk beds and have become somewhat inseparable. Both the boys are enamored with each other and are thrilled to be living together.
At the same time, the Seamans have made arrangements to become Wesley’s legal guardians as and when Somers dies. “My son is well aware that when I pass on, he is welcome to stay here. And he knows that Dan and Tricia will be his guardians. They’ve explained to him that they’ll never be mommy and daddy, but they’re sure going to try to be close,” Somers explained.
According to Tricia Somers, “They’ve answered my prayers. It’s wonderful, it’s absolutely wonderful.” And while she battles with her cancer, her prognosis is not looking good. However, Tricia is thrilled that little Wesley will receive the love and support he needs from his new family, and even inherited and a great companion in the form of a new big brother in the process.