These are words that Maya Jaber has heard time and time again when members of the Cyclebar community describe their experience with Loma. Whether it was chance encounters, an act of kindness, or a story shared, Loma always made people feel like they were the most important person in the room. As we embark on the first anniversary of Loma’s passing, with the permission of her family, I wanted to share Loma’s story with you.
Loma was a sister to me and a friend to many.
Before Cyclebar even entered the picture, Loma’s presence made an imprint on my family’s life. I truly believe our paths were meant to cross, her purpose in life and her legacy was to deeply impact as many people around her as possible, and to leave our community with a gift: connection.
Every single rider who has ever had the opportunity of setting foot into our studio has experienced this magic, first hand. It’s like nothing I have ever felt before.
Loma’s legacy started long before her passing. Loma had spent countless hours on the palliative care unit 43 at the Grey Nun’s Hospital having supported her family through the passing of her aunt under the care of Dr. Amigo. Loma saw first-hand the comfort and understanding that was given to her aunt. In 2014, Loma’s cousin also spent her last days in Unit 43. Loma got to know Dr. Amigo well, as she spent most of Adele’s last days there, supporting her family through this unspeakable loss. Loma’s life was always dedicated to looking after the needs of others.
A few years later while on a trip to Vegas with her sister, mom and daughter, Loma ended up on the same flight as Dr. Amigo. In true Loma style, she chatted away the duration of the flight, sharing her experiences with her cousin and talking about the importance of end of life care. What was considered a chance encounter, we later learned, was fate. Fast forward to 2016.
Loma and I met because of cancer; she had befriended my brother in law, Faisel on her first round of chemo. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2016: a battle she won, going into remission later that year. We became friends through what we thought was a chance encounter (again) at first, only to realize our lives had been intertwined well before that first meeting. She helped my family through the process of admitting Faisel into palliative care, under the care of none other than Dr. Amigo, in November 2017.
A few months later, what we thought was a horrible backache turned into the unthinkable. I remember the day she phoned me and asked me to sit down, to make sure I was not driving, when she told me she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer or Adenocarcinoma: a type of lung cancer seen in active women who were non-smokers. On January 5th, 2018, my life changed.
As a pharmacist, Loma was well aware of the implications of the targeting therapy drug she was placed on. Initially, she responded well. We started the preparations for Cyclebar. The studio quickly became a welcome distraction from the horrible side effects of her chemo meds. She continued to support my family by preparing me for things no one should ever have to prepare for: supporting my husband with the fact he was going to lose his brother, telling my children and supporting the family for what was to come. We lost Faisel on March 21, 2017. On the day we opened the doors to CBWindy for our VIP ride, I was at Faisel’s funeral.
Loma was gutted. Faisel was one of her biggest heroes. She continued to charm her way through our first few weeks, supporting me, and those that chose to come through our doors in our opening months. Loma spent 12-16 hours a day at the studio. In May of 2018, her health took a sharp turn when the doctors discovered the cancer had spread beyond her lungs. Loma’s sister Maya and her family decided it was time to move Loma to Unit 43. We knew it was the right thing to do, not an ironic twist of fate, but rather, an incredible series of connected events.
We laid my friend to rest on June 27, 2018. With the studio closed in honour of Loma, hundreds of people, community members, friends, family and even people whom she had never even met, had gathered to pay their respects to this incredible being. There were dragonflies EVERYWHERE. The RideforLoma was created from a dream I had that night. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I dreamt vivid and accurate images of Loma laughing as she walked through the courtyard in front of the studio, with hundreds of red balloons flying overhead in the sky. It was sunset. She was luminous.
I woke up. I contacted some friends and told them about my dream: RideforLoma.
Our goal was simple.
A massive outdoor party, led by Boodang Music
The energy of the event was like nothing you’ve ever seen, but its essence was captured in a video by the incredibly talented Anthony Do.
And there were dragonflies.
I hope you join us for the Second Annual RideforLoma on July 26 in honour of my friend:
A daughter to Mike and Samar.
Sister to Maya
Wife to Bobby.
Mom to Raya and Rami.
Aunty to Baby Kitty.
WE’RE GONNA DO IT AGAIN
Friday, July 26th, 2019
7pm with Melba and Emily
8pm with Ani and Andre
9pm with Farha
There are many ways you can participate. I hope you join us in your sponsorship of:
– time, your services at the event
– a donation of a product or merchandise or passes for our silent auction
– purchasing a bike, a series of bikes or making a donation.
If you are interested in participating in our silent auction, please email us at email@example.com attention: Gina and Rena.
If you are interested in participating by offering a service at the ride, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Halaby-Ammar family is donating 100 percent of the funds raised from the Ride for Loma back to Unit 43, palliative care unit at the Grey Nun’s Hospital—a unit of staff that had been there for them through the darkest time in their lives.
“My intention is to create a space where people of all walks of life and all fitness levels, can come together to become the greatest versions of themselves.”– Loma Halaby- Ammar, 1978-2018
On behalf of the Halaby-Ammar families, we hope to see you at the ride,