Monis Cancer Healing fund
My cancer adventure began 5 years ago when I detected a small lump on my breast. After some tests, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and was advised to have a radical mascectomy. I was devastated. I was lost. I was confused. All that quicky turned into desperation and I agreed to have surgery. Chemotherapy followed and so did my road to recovery. I was determined to beat cancer. I had no breasts or hair and I was a mess. But I was also determined. I rode my bike to and from chemo once a week. I gave up meat and dairy food. I applied to college and recieved my degree in Social Work. I began to hike, drum, run, paint, travel, practice yoga, draw, cook, read, and teach. I spent days walking, taking pictures, cooking, anything and everthing that would make me stronger-mentally and physically. Once I realized how beneficial and truly life-saving these changes were, I wanted to share with my family, friends and community. I became an active health advocate, which includes providing workshops for youth and families, meals for schools and organizations and consistently sharing recipes and tips for ways people can change their diets for a healthier lifestyle. It was very hard for my daughters to see me go through this and I wanted them to SEE that their mom was going to beat this. I was beating cancer! Or so I thought.
I felt great up until 9 months ago, when I began to experience excruciating pain in my arm. I tried to ignore it and just work through it. I am a chef and catering was and is my only source of income. I needed to work. But after ignoring it for months, I decided to see a doctor. By then, I had developed lymphedema and the pain in my arm (due to lymph nodes being removed) had become worst. Working became very difficult for me and sometimes, I was just tired. After seeing my doctor to treat my lymphedema, they detected a couple of small lumps and later diagnosed me secondary breast cancer.
I realize now, that a new journey for survival has begun for me. I am reaching out to my family, friends and community to help me fund my healing quest.
I believe that seeking, funding and receiving the appropriate care I need is crucial. I have never received alternative/holistic care due to lack of funds, and have always been too prideful to ask.
I was raised to be an independent woman- a role model for my girls to always fight on. I am a survivor. But even the strongest and most independent of us all needs help.
I never do interviews. Whenever someone contacted VeganMoni for an interview my response was always the same..."not interested in exposure." I am always asked how VeganMoni started and I wish I had some awesome story that starts with..."I had a dream.." but that would be false. Unless my dream was to eat and pay bills, then yes, I had a dream-to survive. I have never dreamt of owning a restaurant or being a chef, although I grew up in a kitchen. My mom has been a cook for 40 years at the same place she started in the 70's. She is a natural cook as was my grandmother and great-grandmother. My great-grandmother was a baker and my grandmother created a cenaduria in her car port where she sold food to help make a living. I grew up with my mother taking tamale orders for xmas, going to tupperware meetings and trying to sell Shakley door to door. My mom would also buy clothes, sandals, lipsticks and fashion jewelry from the callejones and would sell merchandise out of her car during lunch to the girls from work. When she wasn't hustling selling food and clothes she would sell fresh squeezed jugos during breakfast and sell sodas at lunch. I come from a long line of hustlers.
VeganMoni will turn six this year and although this story is not about following a dream as it is about surviving, its my story and I won't be ashamed of it. We don't all have the same opportunities and we all make different decision that shape our outcome. I never expected to take VeganMoni on this journey. This journey was not made for us. I never thought of this as a business or as a movement, I simply needed money. I had no clue how to market VeganMoni. I, like most of the people in my neighborhood, sold food out of necessity. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I lost everything. I lost my job. I lost my relationship. I lost all my savings and I lost my dreams.
For a whole year, while I suffered excruciating pain due to my surgeries, I remained stagnant. I allowed this process to occur without self love and I was hopeless. I was forced to apply for government assistance and I would be lying if I said that there was no humiliation attached to that. I had no choice. I started receiving about $400 a month in foodstamps. That first month, I remember, I received more than I did the rest of the months. Thats when I had an idea. I didn't have money, but I had food stamps and survival skills. So, I spread the word and began cooking at pop-ups. It was a success. People respond very well to this whole no meat, no cheese approach to cooking. No meat and no cheese simply meant less money for me to spend on dishes. I had also taken on this new vegan diet, so it perfect. I was doing me. I had come up with a way to make money and also take care of myself in the process. I began to do workshops and delivering meals. I was making ends meet all by myself. Well, with the help of my food stamps. These few hundred dollars a month allowed me to flip my money. I was out of the hole I had been in a few months earlier. With every extra dollar I made a saved a few more to buy equipment. I started buying big pots and pans and replacing all my $.99 plastic containers with BPA free containers. I was so happy. A few months later, I stopped receiving food stamps.
During this time, people would contact me to do interviews. I was super surprised... like..."why me." First of all, I am not doing anything different than the lady on 4th St. is. Second, unless they were also gonna interview all the tamale ladies- I was out. And third, but most important, I refused to get any attention just because I was vocal and kinda well known. CHALE. I knew my food was top-notch, but I also had no interest in climbing any social latter. I just don't have enough fake smiles to pass out. So, I never did an interview. Partly because no one who approached me that made me feel comfortable enough to tell my story, but also I didn't want them to turn VeganMoni into a hip piece about veganism and some revolutionary movement attached to it. I have worked hard. My movement has been about surviving with the deck of cards I had been dealt with. It has been about reaching deep into the roots that have been embedded in me in order to move forward. It was about rising from the fukn ashes when something or someone tries to burn you down.
New Blog up. Check out my website where I will be sharing.
Thank you everyone for listening to my rants. My cancer seems to be under control. I am waiting for new scan results and hoping for NED (no evidence of disease) For now I am still on anaztrole, lupron and zometa for my bones. I have started a new hormone therapy that has suppressed my estrogen. So no more babies for me AND no more monthly visits from my moon sister. I still feel like I can carry triplets, but its not happening. Lol
I am doing very well. I feel great and I'm hoping for nothing but goodness this year. Also, VeganMoni is going vegan. Since last year, I have been eating all kinds of yummy unhealthy foods and I'm finally putting an end to it all. I'm starting my normal diet that doesn't include cheese or red meat. I will be blogging my experience on my website www.veganmoni.com and journaling some photos of my process. I'm excited to finally be getting over this slump and move forward.
Mantra: Feed your body and mind only goodness. Be kind to yourself and others. You deserve all the good that comes your way. Love love love.- You all have contributed to this path I am on. Without your help, none of this would have been possible. I am here because you all allow me to continue to be part of your lives. Thank you for all your kindness. You all are my medicine❤️
Lately, I have been extremely tired. I can't do the same things I used to without stopping to catch my breath and resting. Certain parts of my body had become intolerable. I had been feeling like this for a bit. When I shared this with my doctor he suggested I get a bone scan. I wanted to skip all the tests but my pain has gotten worst and I wanted to know for sure.
When I went in to get my bone scan, I kept my eyes glued to the screen as parts of my body began to light up. When you get a bone scan, they inject you with a radio active liquid that makes the areas that detect cancer light up... like glow spots on the screen. I saw my ribs light up and my chest light up and my lung area light up. I knew it. The process took about an hour. And for that hour, I stared at that screen hoping it would blow up. I didn't. I walked out and realized that the parts where i had been having discomfort where some of the areas that lit up. I sat with this for days. Trying to do normal stuff and not break out into tears.
Today I went in for my results. I knew something was up since we went straight into his office. "Are you here alone?" he asked. "I'm here with the baby." I respond. He made this weird face I had never seen him make, like sucking his cheeks in. Like he was trying not to laugh or cry. "Its ok...I already know." I said.
He looked and me and said "I'm sorry." I could feel myself getting really hot and my eyes began to fill with tears. "I'm ok."
As he walked out of his office for tissue, I lost it.
This is not the way the my story ends. Fuck no. I gathered myself together and we continued the conversation.
Bone scan shows cancer in my spine and ribs. Also in my middle chest area lymph nodes. In my tumor(right side) and now in my lungs.
I really thought I would be a lot more angry, but i think i was more prepared than anything. So now it seems that chemo would not be beneficial since its already hit my bones and lungs. There is no cure. It is treatable but not curable. My doctor has advised me not to do chemo because at this point it would do more damage than good. He is also recommending radiation and hormone therapy. The survival rate is different for everyone. I don't want to go online and start doing research on that because, well, its hard.
STUPID LUNGS. STUPID BONES. STUPID BREASTS.
STUPID LYMPH NODES.
I don't even know what to do anymore. My doctor says travel and live life...and I'm like PAY ME!! lol
But fo' real doe...Im good. I will have to think about a shorter future but a future nonetheless...and make it the fukn greatest I can. For now, I am officially on hiatus. I will continue with my photography project that has brought me joy!
Thank you again to everyone for sharing and donating.
I love you all!
I find myself trying to make connections with people who I feel will make this process easier. I have come to realize nothing will make this process easier. I keep thinking one day I'll get really sick and won't make it out of the hospital, like some of my peers. So I try to act as normal as possible and just live, but this shit sucks balls. I look at couples holding hands and I think about being in love. Like I once was. Full of passion and curiosity. Then I begin to feel selfish to want a love I know I will soon leave behind. I try to submerge myself in work to keep this mind occupied but it only takes a sweet memory, a certain smell or seeing my love walk pass me to make me drown in my sorrows again.
My kids- I can't even begin.
Last week somone said "you're gaining weight." My reaction was typical. "I know, gotta start working out." But I secretly thanked my gods for those extra pounds. I've been eating like a buffalo in preparation for chemo again. Last night I ate a huge steak and had me some mezcal. I thanks my gods everyday for it all, the cancer too. Sometime I shut my eyes and say, "now, I'm ready now...take me." As if it were that easy.
I give up everyday, and everyday I convince myself to get the fuk up. I get stuck and I have to find a way to unhinge myself from saddeness. I plan to extent this 3-5 year death sentence just a little longer. I want to see Lali graduate from high school, King start kindergarten, Sierra and Jay just fukn adult. But, we can not always get what we want. And for that I am prepared.
So cancer, chill out for a second -please. I need to figure out some shit before you take it all away.