‘I’m the new mayor’: Girl battling cancer gives laughs, inspiration at Hamilton council meeting

Naomi Short is only 8, but she ruled the Hamilton City Council chambers Wednesday like a graceful, happy visiting head of state, smiling as she explained she isn’t too sad to be battling Stage 4 brain cancer.

Before the council meeting started, she sat in the mayor’s seat, raising her 10 fingers to show how many radiation treatments she has left following four surgeries since September and before she begins six months of chemotherapy treatments in late January.

“After today, I only have 10 more treatments,” she said with her enthusiastic voice that delights people who meet her. “Sometimes it makes me feel tired, the radiation does, sometimes. I am brave.”

During the later ceremony, the Crawford Woods Elementary third-grader was praised by her principal, her school librarian, the mayor and her mom. Naomi announced she was kind of glad to have cancer, even though she expects to chemotherapy to make her feel tired and “really sick.”

“It kind of makes me happy that I was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer because it made me more social, and more, like, exciting and stuff, and like, really energized,” Naomi told the crowd. “But sometimes I’m not really energized, from treatment.”

She’s not “totally glad, but just a little bit,” she said.

Is she looking forward to Christmas?

“Yeah, of course I am,” she said. “And guess what. My last treatment is the day after Christmas.”

She doesn’t know when she will return to school, but last weekend she had the honor of lighting the outdoor Christmas tree at American Legion Post 138 in Hamilton.

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“I’m the new mayor,” she announced, raising her hand, while Mayor Pat Moeller led a presentation explaining the battle she is waging against the disease.

Her statement about being the mayor drew applause.

“I got to sit in the mayor’s seat back there,” she said. “So I’m the new mayor. He’s not the mayor no more. I’m the new mayor, and Riley (her doll) is the assistant.”

Principal Aaron Hopkins told the crowd that before she became ill, Naomi was very quiet. But since, she has revealed her very spunky, “spitfire” personality, and “her attitude uplifts everyone around her.”

“She’s got this long journey in front of her, but we’re all pullin’ for her and she’s going to do great,” Hopkins said, “and she knows that.”

School librarian Renee Smallwood organized the Go Blue for Naomi T-shirt campaign to raise money for her medical care. After she autographed Moeller’s T-shirt at Saturday’s tree-lighting ceremony, many decided they should pay her $5 apiece to sign their shirts or wrists.

Various city businesses have offered specials, while the Petals & Wicks shop created a special candle with her favorite scents.

A GoFundMe account has been set up called Help Naomi Fight Brain Cancer. As of Tuesday evening, it raised more than $8,700 toward a $50,000 goal.

“I thank God every day I get to be her mom,” Melissa Short told the audience.

“Before this, she’s just always been, unless you got to know her, very quiet and reserved. Through all the attention and support that she’s been given, she’s definitely opened up.”

Naomi is a very caring, her mom added, noting that at Halloween in the hospital, she divided candy she had been given into goodie bags for other children on the floor.

“‘Cause I know how it feels to be in the hospital on a holiday,” Naomi explained. “You don’t really get to spend time with your family, because you’re in the hospital.”

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If she were mayor for a day, she told Moeller, “I would tell all the stores if a homeless person walks by or something to give them free food, because they’re homeless and they don’t have no money. They still need to survive. They don’t deserve to die because of it.”

She also would give the homeless people homes, “and it would come out of my pocket,” she said.

If mayor for a second day, “I would spread joy to the world,” and on Halloween, rather than letting kids take only one piece of candy, “I would let them take as many pieces as they want,” she said.

She’d also tell people not to beat up others.

“And since I would be the mayor, then they can’t do it no more, or else they’d go to jail,” she said.

At the end, she took a bow while seated and gave a wrist-twisting, queenly wave while the crowd provided a rare standing ovation.

“She is so inspiring, I said, ‘I’d like to have my shirt autographed by you,’” Moeller said after the meeting. “She is so intelligent, speaks from the heart. I mean it, She is just so Hamilton. I mean, she’s not going to give up, she’s going to succeed, and she’s going to succeed for a long time at whatever she does.

“You think what she’s going through, it makes our daily problems seem so minuscule. She just had treatment today.

“When you heard her say part of her feels glad that it happened, that is an incredible statement to make that it somehow it’s making her more outgoing and people are learning more about what a person like her faces in this tragedy, which is not going to end up bad. It’s going to end up good. “I believe she’s going to beat this. I really do.

“She’s just an amazing, amazing little girl, and she could become mayor. Matter of fact, I hope she becomes mayor.”

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