A homeless man finds his reason to live: Telling his end-of-life story

A homeless man finds his reason to live: Telling his end-of-life story
Updated: Aug. 9, 2017 at 4:50 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Trever Comer has no home, no money, and terminal colon cancer.

Most people in his spot would struggle to find a reason to wake up in the morning. But despite all life's thrown at him, the 49-year-old is trying to do good every day.

And he's got a new mission in life: To document the end of it, and to give others hope along the way.

It was last August that Comer was diagnosed.

"I had this pain. I walked to Straub Hospital and my life changed — like that," said Comer, snapping his fingers.

Comer's pain was coming from a large, cancerous tumor that doctors removed.

After the surgery, more bad news: Comer was given 18 months to live if he underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

Without it, doctors gave him six.

"I chose six," Comer said. "Why? Because I'd rather have six good months than 18 bad months, of course. Who wouldn't?"

After the diagnosis, Comer was lost, stunned, shaken.

He reached for his closest comfort at the time — his smart phone — and hit record.

In that hospital room video, a shaky Comer speaks into the camera: "I just got told I have couple years, tops, to live," he says. "I'll be alright. I'll be alright. I'll be alright."

Comer posted the four-minute video to YouTube. He followed up with another video a month later, in which he said he was thankful to be able to share his story with anyone interested in listening.

"I can't dictate what happened to me," he said. "But I can dictate how I do it and what kind of legacy I make from it."

Comer lives at the Next Step shelter in Kakaako, and is in the care of Hospice Hawaii.

Hospice Hawaii nurse Yvonne Lindstrom is among those who visit him regularly in places around town. She said his story underscores the unique challenges homeless people face as they grapple with end-of-life care.

Lindstrom said she and the Hospice Hawaii team have also formed a special bond with Comer.

"Oh yes, we've shed many of tears and I see more to come," she said.

Hospice Hawaii nurse and doctors visit Comer once or twice a week. Last month, he spent about a week at their Kailua facility receiving care.

The staff even kept him an extra day so he could celebrate his birthday.

"Man, Yvonne, the best," said Comer. "I couldn't say more about her."

Comer came to the islands four years ago, and has lived in locations around the country. He says in Hawaii he found a home, finally.

"Before I came to Hawaii, I never knew the term blessings, you know," he said. "I got blessings here in Hawaii, you know. Blessings. Big time blessings."

His biggest blessing? It's now been 12 months since doctors gave him six months to live, and he's set on making every moment count.

Hospice Hawaii even helped Comer check off an item on his bucket list, reuniting him with his mom on the mainland. The two hadn't spoken for over 20 years.

"My future is tomorrow, hopefully," Comer said. "And today."

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