Eight years ago I was diagnosed last second with an agressive leukemia (AML). It’s been known as the autopsy disease because they tend not to catch it until you’re… well you get it.
When it happened I had no idea the lifelong percussions it would bring. I had 6 months of the most aggressive chemotherapy leading up to a bone marrow transplant. The doctors told me a BMT would be the worst thing they can do to a body. I thought, “Really?” What about heart transplants or double lung transplants? Once it was happening I realized why. That’s enough about that.
I was a single parent with three sons I’d been raising on my own. I’d never needed help before. I was just finishing my B.F.A when BAM, I was in Vancouver hanging by a thread. I expected a year of my life would be taken from me. I had no idea the depth and breadth of what I was about to go through. Nothing has ever been the same and at this point I realize it will never be.
I had lots of helping hands, my mother watched my children in my own home so they didn’t need to leave school. Strangers brought them dinners once a week. The amount of times people helped is literally more than I can count. Despite that, we were rocketed into poverty like we’ve never experienced. My medications, cost of living and the fact I was unable to work for 5 years and even now I can only work part time. I burnt through my savings within 3 months supporting my kids while I was in the Vancouver Hospital. I then experienced 8 years of no stable job. I accept I am disabled now. I hate it but it is what it is.
I do know this crushing poverty after cancer is not unique to me. I was only 33 years old and finishing my degree. My world was sunshiny and bright, the future looked only brighter. Now my life is a shell of what it was.
There are others like me. People with no safety nets. People who have been crushed by cancer. We call them survivors but surviving getting back to life after treatment is still another barren highway of struggle. Chemotherapy saves your life but it also causes cognitive issues which last for years. It also impacts the body in other long term ways.
I have received so much kindness and love from strangers. I still wish I could find each and every one to thank them and let them know what that meant to me and my sons. Even if I can’t find each and every one what I can do is pay it forward. I have a dream to help someone I have’t even met yet.
Then this last year my mother was diagnosed with a rare Hodgkins Lymphona. She will be receiving a bone marrow transplant in about a month. The devastation that brings is unspeakable. I made her a painting to remind her of her favourite daily walking place. When she’s too ill to walk she can have the soothing colours of the lily pads and water.
This prompted a committed and generous friend to suggest we make cards with the image as a fundraiser. Between the two of us and a lot of hard work we’ve produced the card! All (yes %100) of the proceeds will go to a scholarship fund to help someone who may not have had the chance to go to school. This is something I’m extremely passionate about. Education can mean the difference in someone’s life. It enriches our minds and souls as well as helps us with employment or changing careers if we are unable to continue our previous ones.
If you bought a card thank you. If you would like to help out with this cause please send me a message. Neighbour helping neighbour, hand helping hand. We can do this.