By Kim Walter
After missing her oldest son's high school graduation, Faye Naumann decided she could never let that happen again.
"Excuse my language, but I said I'll be damned if I would be deprived of seeing my other son graduate," she said Wednesday.
The 55-year-old mother and wife was able to see her son Steven graduate on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at Skyline High School after receiving news that she might not make it to his actual graduation ceremony in June.
Naumann has been battling terminal cancer ever since Steven was born 18 years ago. She's been through radiation and surgeries among many other things, which is why she missed her older son's graduation. Naumann had to stay at John Hopkins for several days after undergoing a procedure.
"I asked the doctors if I could just go home and see him graduate, but I was plugged into so many machines and tubes that they told me if I left I would die," she said. "My husband taped it for me and everything, but it just wasn't the same."
Last year, the cancer became so aggressive that Naumann wasn't able to hear or walk. A stint was implanted into her brain so that she could receive treatments, and she began to recover.
"We thought it might finally go away," she said.
However, about a month ago, Naumann got startling news from her doctor after one her CAT scans was reviewed. Her son sat in the room with her when the doctors told her that she not only had a tumor in the back of her brain, but also had several other spots on the front of her brain.
While the previous treatments had helped, Naumann learned that they were really "just buying her time."
"The bottom line was that I'm going to die," she said. "That just smacked Steven right in the face."
Naumann said her youngest son has known nothing but a sick mother his whole life, but he still has emotions to deal with knowing what her future holds. Apparently the Skyline High School senior didn't want to talk with her about it right away.
"I found out later that he sort of poured his heart out on Facebook asking his friends to pray for me, and just letting them know that I wasn't doing very well," she said.
After friends saw the post, Steven Naumann was told to go see a school guidance counselor.
Steven said that the teachers and everybody knew what the situation was with his mom. "And they also knew that it was her goal to see me graduate, so we put a ceremony together for her."
Naumann's family was invited to see not only her son graduate, but also her grandson. The principal, assistant principal, as well as a few teachers and guidance counselors attended the ceremony, and Naumann got to see the two young men walk across the stage and receive diplomas.
"They had the cap and gown and everything," Naumann said. Her son even spoke during the ceremony, like he would at a regular graduation. "The folks at that school took out time from their day to make this happen for me ... and they even told me and my family to take as much time as we needed. It was a beautiful program."
A friend of the family, Melody Michelucci, took graduation photos after the ceremony. Michelucci owns Born Free Photography, a Front Royal business, but didn't charge the family for her services. She was able to get Naumann prints of the photos in just a couple days.
"She was thrilled with the photos, so that's all that matters," Michelucci said. "I have known Faye all my life. She is a remarkable woman who shows a great deal of strength and dignity."
Naumann said she was bitter upon receiving the most recent news on the aggressive cancer, but has been able to move past the feeling through a supportive family and firm faith in God.
"I believe God deals us a hand of cards for our lives, but it's up to us how we play them," she said. "My boy was so sweet to make sure I saw him graduate, and the school absolutely went above the call of duty to help ... the Lord has been good to me."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org