Tag Archives: Toyota

Nearing the End

Today, i’ve decided to start the Nearing the End series, somehow making this part of the Back to the beginning series doesn’t feel right, when I think of where this is headed. I hope you agree with me?

So, at this stage, Nick knew he didn’t have too much longer to go and between the two of us, he often said he was done himself. I guess after all the chemo and treatments and news only getting worse, he was so over it. There was nothing but bad news every week, in fact, the whole time he was sick, it only went from bad to worse, without barely a plateau week in between. As much as he wanted to live for our daughter and me, he knew no amount of wishing was going to make it come true.

We fought about it a couple of times, he’d tell me he was done, that he wanted no more treatment, that he wanted to live out the rest of his time without hospital visits, i’d tell him it wasn’t his choice, he wasn’t going to give up! These have to go down as the weirdest couple fights ever! He was lethargic and losing patience with most things, he just wasn’t himself anymore and truthfully this scared me. Of course, he always had the right to stop treatment to his own body, at any time, and in ways I feel guilty for making it more about me, I just wasn’t ready to let him go.

I always just wanted him back to normal, for our lives to go back to normal. In my heart, I knew this would never be, but how I wished for those ‘normal’ days again. That old Nick. I missed cooking us dinner, the 6pm phone call, to tell me he was on his way home, Nick walking through the door, planting a kiss on my lips, complaining about the traffic then launching into a story about his day. I would crave the normal, ordinary life we once had. I knew I would never have this with him again, but the 10 years of memories we had together were going to have to suffice.

Nearing the end
A photo of a more simple time, Nick after work taking a quick photo

Of course, there are some things I don’t miss, even now, like how he could fly off the handle so quickly or how pedantic he was about cleaning….of yes, there is a story about Nick spying a cobweb and not telling me about it, to see how long it would take before I spotted it! A little strange to some maybe, but it was Nick nonetheless. I definitely laugh about this one now!

If you’re a friend of ours and reading this, you might be thinking to yourself, you never saw this side of Nick, where he felt so close to the end, but the truth is, he hid it so well from everyone, including his work friends. They might remember Nick coming past the office, wanting to be kept in the loop on happenings, he would speak to his manager about coming back one day, his manager would try to nicely point out, that Nick should be concentrating on treatment and spending time with us. Which was right, but I guess, Toyota had been such a big part of his normal life, he didn’t want to give up on it. I knew he was truly unwell, when he stopped talking about going back to work.

But his Toyota family, (as i’ve always called him) kept his spirits up. He had so many friends at work, in all different areas, that he would actually email  what felt like, the whole Toyota network with his cancer progress updates. The replies via email, text and phone calls kept him buoyed for days, he’d read them all out to me, how they wished him well, praised his positive outlook and mostly, told him how much he was missed in the office and out on the road. Nick was actually asked by his manager, to stop sending the emails, because the office productivity always came to a standstill, as people read them and gathered to discuss, and he thought the mood in the office changed to a more somber one. Nick was gutted when he was told this, but that’s the impact he had on his work friends, they were truly touched, not just by his diagnosis, but by who he was, in general.

Below is a direct copy of two of the last emails Nick sent out to his work family, the first is just a month after his diagnosis:

29/07/2010

Good Afternoon All, 

Well I would like to begin to expressing my sincere thanks to you all, the support provided since finding out about my ill-health has been overwhelming. I can tell you its support from each and everyone of you that keeps me motivated every day!!

Over the past 6 weeks my body has been put through a hard slog, and all that training and fitness over the years has definitely been put to the test.
Having completed Chemo and Radiation, today i begin the road to recovery, as I do my best to regain my strength and get my appetite back.

Its a waiting game now, while my body recoups from all the trauma of the treatment it will be some time before doctors can advise if it was a success.
I have an initial test booked in for August 17, followed by a PET scan (full body cancer scan) in mid Sept for final result and next step discussions.

So the Kosmas goal…. to remain completely focused over the next short period and get back to work as soon as possible…. I just don’t feel the same without interacting with dealers each day !!

Take care everyone, I will be in touch with you all soon.
Once again thank you for all the support !!

Cheers
Nick

12/10/2010

Good Afternoon All,

Well, it’s been a little while since my last email update, so I thought today, while getting treatment would be the best time to update you all on what’s been happening in the life of the Kosmas family.

Europe Trip
Europe was great medicine for Michela and I, the last round of treatment played havoc on my body and was mentally draining at the end. We just needed a break away from hospitals and medication which makes me feel unwell. Our trip served its purpose, giving us fantastic weather (30 degress everyday), and great food and culture. We spent a few days in London and Michela and I were pleasantly surprised with how much we liked London and would go back again. Italy is where we spent most of our time, and I have to say, we really love the place and can’t wait to go back….. It’s just perfect, the relaxed attitude, the way of life, the food and let’s not forget the best coffee in the world!!!
We came back to Oz rested and ready once again !!

Treatment
Landed back from Europe on Sep 15 evening, and was back in hospital 9am the following morning. Totally out of sorts, and in true Nick fashion I pushed through the day… A mammoth day, it began with the installation of an arm port at 9am (USB for meds!), where they hit a nerve on insertion.. Very painful… (I swore very loud), then it was over for a blood test for an update on my platelets, white and red cell counts before the day-ward nurses could begin chemotherapy… What a day, we got home 10pm, never want to do that again!!! Ever!!!

Since then, it’s been a learning curve, testing and trialling medication to help me cope with this new cocktail mix of chemotherapy. This includes meds like anti-nausea to overcome side effects like vomiting, dizziness etc.
I am very pleased to have an opportunity to be trialling this new chemotherapy, they don’t offer this treatment to many, and you must fit a category, like young, healthy, fit, good looking etc…
It’s a very potent mix of meds, but I feel strong enough to take on the challenge….

Today I’m on my 3rd dose of treatment, which occurs every second Tuesday, it drains me for a few days, so i go into recovery mode until the weekend, and then I start getting around again and begin the preparation (eating & drinking plenty) to do it all again.
Sounds a bit heavy and it is, but you know what, it’s amazing what you get used to when you have too!!

My Driving Force
My wife, Michela and baby Claudia are my inspiration, and let me tell you I will never lose hope or my fight, with this terrible sickness that effects so many families, whilst they are by my side.
The support from Michela is inspirational and she keeps everything together always… Best investment I ever made was buying her a Prada bag, wallet and sunnies while away…… (cost me a packet, but she’s worth it!)

To all of you out there, thank you!!! I really mean that, this is a emotional roller coaster ride, and it’s not always easy but support goes so far… That simple text or email can change my day.. Thanks

Giving Back
Health is so important to me, so if I can help spread the word on health to any of your staff/team in the future.. It would be my pleasure to talk openly about my own condition at any forum.

I’m signing off for now, cause I’m a distraction to you all from the job at hand… Keep selling, I hear we have some great finance offers coming available on key models, so good luck and hope your business continues to grow.

Cheers
Nick

I hope that by including these emails, you can even more of a feel for who Nick was, in his own words.  Since beginning this blog, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people telling me they still talk about Nick on a regular basis and that he is never far from their thoughts. I think he would absolutely love that, knowing that he is still spoken of, and that his memory is being kept alive by so many, even today.

Nearing the End
Singing ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ with work friends on a trip to Brampton Island, always the life of the party!

Do you remember getting one of the above emails? What were your thoughts at the time?

I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment below and don’t forget to like The Polished Widow on Facebook!

Til next time, Michela x

Happy Birthday Nick!

Today I have taken a break from the Back to the beginning series for a special post – Happy Birthday Nick! It’s March 16th and instead of being sad about it, I choose to celebrate Nick’s life, in the same way I have since his passing.

Today is also the Melbourne Grand Prix and if you knew anything about Nick, it was that he had a crazy love for the sport and luckily enough, it nearly always landed on his birthday! (Not so great for any photos we might have tried to get on his birthday, he was always bright red and sun burnt from being at the track!)

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick celebrating a birthday, looking as red as his cake!

(* on a side note, you’ll see how old this photo must be, when you look at how ancient that phone next to him looks!)

One of his last memorable birthdays was his 30th, being that it was on a GP weekend, it was only appropriate that it was also Grand Prix themed, as noted by the invitation below:

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick’s 30th Birthday invite
Happy Birthday Nick!
Us at his 30th, him burnt from being at the GP all day!! Somebody say sunglasses marks!
Happy Birthday Nick!
30th Birthday room setup (we thought it looked pretty good, at the time!)

As you’ll notice Nick’s favourite team was McLaren, but he also was very passionate about the Panasonic Toyota Racing team (whilst they were around), due to the loyalty he felt in being an employee and loving his job at Toyota for the last 13 years of his life! There was even a Toyota fancy dress competition he entered once, where he went to the GP dressed as Captain Toyota, no photo evidence of this, but believe me, it was funny! And for wearing his undies over leggings in public, he only got second place, he was devastated, because 1st prize was a trip to the Monaco GP. (If anyone has a photo of this, please send it to me!!)

On a less humiliating note, being that he worked for Toyota, he was also privy to tickets to races and even meeting drivers, as below, in these pics with their driver, Jarno Trulli.

Happy Birthday Nick!
Meeting Trulli in March 09′
Happy Birthday Nick!
So happy to hang with Trulli in 2009

If you’re a friend of Nick’s, you won’t need me to tell you how much he hated Ferrari. I think it was more about the friendly rivalry to ‘stick it up the spags’ as he’d say. He loved the GP so much, that he would stay up all night, to watch it live throughout the season. From my bedroom, I could clearly hear him calling around to all his mates, also watching, and giving them a ribbing for how their teams, but namely Ferrari, were going! After Nick’s death, I remember a couple of his friends saying how difficult it was for them to watch it and know he wasn’t going to call.

He also loved the GP so much, that he planned our holidays around races. While he would have loved to cross a few more of the international circuits off his list, it wasn’t to be. On our last trip to Italy before his passing, he desperately wanted to go to the Italian GP, but his health wasn’t so great and it was a far distance from where we were at the time.

In also keeping with my, ‘never say no to your dying husband’ plan, we booked a trip to Malaysia with our friends John and Natalie to see another GP in April 2011, but he passed away before then.

At the time of planning, we’d all be looking at each other thinking there’s a good chance he won’t be around to go to this, but he was so persistent, all we could do was agree and book tickets. Nick was so determined to see another Grand Prix race live before he died,  that I just let him do whatever he wanted, regardless of the consequences.

Once he passed away, we were able to get our money back on airline tickets and I even managed to sell his Malaysian GP ticket to my mum’s neighbour who was going to be holidaying there at the same time, what a fluke!! So, in all, it made him happy planning it and there was no harm done.

He did get to the Malaysian and Montreal races, before his illness, also travelling with others who enjoyed the Grand Prix as much as he did, we went to Malaysia with my sister, Franca and brother in law, Eden and met up with a good friend of Nick’s from Toyota, Nick & his wife Sophie, to go to the Montreal race.

Happy Birthday Nick!
Grid girls in Malaysia, 09′, his favourite thing to do at the track was get this shot!
Happy Birthday Nick!
Montreal track in 08′
Happy Birthday Nick!
Accident in Montreal

Nick loved driving and would often say that he would have been a gun Formula One driver, I believe him, but as his well weight was over 100kg, we’d always joke he’d never fit in the narrow cars, when he got sick and started to shrink, he would say to me, he was now the perfect drivers weight. But, too bad, by then, I was the closest thing to a grid girl he was going to see!

One of the things i’ve stored away for our daughter, is his collection of Formula One race passes. I’m sure a few have gone missing over the years, but I look forward to the day, when I get to talk to her about her Dad’s obsession with these as proof, oh and the other 200 photos of Nick posing with grid girls, he never got bored of that!

Happy Birthday Nick!
Collection of GP passes

The last birthday that Nick planned was for his 33rd birthday, knowing he probably wasn’t going to be around much longer, he thought he’d throw a huge party at his friend John’s restaurant and invite everyone who meant something to him. These were the last invites he ever sent out:

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick’s last birthday invite

Nick died 5 weeks before this party, so I did the one thing I knew he’d want me to do, I continued on with it. Instead of it being just a birthday party, I made it a celebration of his life instead. After the heaviness of his funeral, and feeling like there was nothing of Nick there, I needed to do something that was Nick. A party was just what he’d want!

I think most people would have thought I’d cancel the party, but the thought never crossed my mind. It was a gathering of all our favourite people, who meant so much to us and had been such a support over the past 7 months, even his Doctors and some of the hospital staff, who he’d left an impression on, made it. I had such a good time that day, being able to thank everyone for their support, i’m sure some of our guests expected to see me a broken woman dressed in black, but I was anything but, I spent the day talking about the man who meant so much to me, there were no tears, just happy memories.

My friend, Margaret, put all his photos together and we played this during the day, I have vivid memories of laughing out loud at the pics, and saying, ‘oh..remember that day..’, it was the best good bye I could have given Nick.

Another nod to his love of the GP is visible on his headstone. I had no doubt in my mind, that I wanted something to reflect his love of the sport and so I had the racing flags etched on it for him. Some might think it’s a bit much, but I thought it was the perfect touch! (Much better than the Toyota symbol, some people suggested!)

Happy Birthday Nick!
Nick’s headstone before it was erected

So, today I wish Nick a very Happy Birthday, wherever he is, looking down on us, though i’m sure he’s really track side watching the GP!

Thanks for everything Nick, we’ll never forget you, you were one of a kind!

Til next time, Michela x