Cory Roberts-Auli died of complications due to AIDS on March 10, 1996. Cory
was an International AIDS Activist and a great advocate for women with
HIV/AIDS. Cory had a real first hand knowledge of what oppression,
deprivation and second class citizenship was all about. He was always willing
to put women first in the struggle against bigotry. He often worked hard to
ensure that women were included in anything that had to do with AIDS,
advocacy and services for PWAs. Cory was an important volunteer and friend
to Women Alive & Being Alive. This was his last article:
I moved to Berlin, Germany in July 1995 to be with my lover, Carsten. We
were in the process of building a life together, when on December 22, the
last day of my German language course as Christmas break began, I was
admitted to Augusta Victoria Krankenhaus with belief that I had
Toxoplasmosis. But even though some of the symptoms got better after two
weeks of treatment, the lesion did not decrease.
Some of the symptoms such as the headache I'd had for many weeks, seeing
everything in fours, and the unsteadiness in my hands and legs did improve.
I actually was beginning to feel a lot better and I was less afraid. As a
bonus, I began to get daily erections, which hadn't happened in years. Then
after the second ET Scan showed no reduction in the lesion, Carsten and I
were faced with the possibility of something far more serious, like lymphoma.
We got this news on January 10, 1996, Carsten's Birthday.
We were told to go to Steglitz for open brain surgery so that the doctors
could biopsy the lesion. After my experience with a lung biopsy and all the
complications that it caused, I was a bit worried and of course, very afraid.
When they explained the actual procedure which required removing part of my
cerebellum and cutting out sections of my brain, I was even more frightened.
We decided to go through with the biopsy in order to have as much information
as possible available to us.
Preparing to Leave
As CNS lymphoma continues to progress, the tumor expands, and the symptoms
worsen, I become more prepared to leave this body behind. I believe it is
within my power, and certainly my choice, to let go. And this is truly what I
desire. I have just received a prognosis through Dr. Miller's office that it
is terminal and I cannot say that I was not expecting it. I am actually
looking forward to the relief. Even under the best of circumstances I am
given three months of certain deterioration of mental and physical faculties.
Since I have already received the maximum dose of radiation over the usual
four week period, the only options for treatment would be direct blasts of
radiation onto the lesion. This could actually be dangerous and make me less
functional. Or the other option would be a series of radiation implants,
which would require frequent openings of the left cerebellum.
I Have Never Died Before
As I look back at the 7 weeks at AVK, there are actually fond memories of the
nurses and doctors who were all compassionate. Even though I didn't have
insurance, they assured me of the best care available and I made friends
with Marita, a PWA. Actually, if I had to comment on my 7 weeks stay at AVK
it would be positive -- not so with my 1 week stay at Steglitz.
When I think of what is ahead of me, I feel almost a sense of relief. I know
I am capable of letting go and I look forward with a sense of adventure to
what lies ahead. If all of you hearing or reading this could step outside of
your own emotions for a moment and be happy for me and for my freedom, you
would see just how ready I am for this to be over. I've been carrying this
disease around for many years and I am elated to be free of it.
Of course, I have little to no information about what lies ahead, after all,
I have never died before. Still, I can't help being excited and scared at the
same time. Death is so complete but so is the deterioration which I am
experiencing daily, which actually scares me a great deal more than death
I wish Carsten and I had more guidance from the beginning. It all seemed to
happen so fast. We were suddenly hit with a terminal infection and our life
together was instantly shredded. Through all of these weeks and everything
that came with them, Carsten has struggled to protect me, assure me, love me,
keep me laughing, and at the same time maintain a career and keep a busy,
politically-demanding life in tact. I can't help thinking that I could have
made things easier for him.
Unfortunately, we had no counseling or advice on how to get through what
had fallen upon us. In some ways I can't help feeling guilty for getting so ill
so early in our new life together. All of our dreams were shredded. I can't
help it, I worry about "Booter" and Tina. Through all of this, they have
been, at times, my only contact to the real world outside of the hospital.
Without them, I don't know what I would have done. I just couldn't believe
that this was happening to us. I wanted to think that the diagnosis was just
a sick perverted joke that the doctors were playing on me.
Many other people came to see me in the hospital. I was there for 8 weeks.
Maybe I could've utilized more resources in a better way, but I didn't know
how everything around me was crumbling. It was only when I realized that I
would be coming home to my friends and chosen family, that I felt that I had
something to hold onto. Coming back to Los Angeles was like coming home.
Maybe not as much for Carsten and Tina but certainly for me. To Mary, Nancy,
and the Ferdman: being with you and all the other people that I love so
dearly has made a tremendous difference in my final exit. Please don't be
mad at me for being so closed with time. Everything was closing in on me and
I was trying so hard to get ready. It truly is hardest for me to leave
behind my Lover, "BOOTER."