I am reaching out to friends and family to share an update about my health and to ask for your help. Please feel free to share this!
For those of you who do not know, I'm on a journey with cancer. The short story is, in January I discovered a large tumor in my throat/neck area and was diagnosed with Stage 3-c metastatic malignant melanoma. I felt stunned; I had been perfectly healthy, and then suddenly had a serious cancer, with major surgery in February, a month of recovery, then a month of radiation. In May I began a year-long course of Interferon, a sort of chemotherapy treatment for melanoma. May was a long, tough month"”four weeks of high-dose I-V infusions five days a week; the month was a wash-out with total fatigue and strong flu-like effects. At this point I'm into the next phase: self-injection, three days a week, for eleven months.
I'm feeling better than I did in May, but still experience significant side-effects of fatigue/low energy, dizziness, weakness, body ache, plus anxiety and depression. I'm told to expect these mental and flu-like effects for the duration. My energy and ability to function is inconsistent, and this makes knowing what I can do from day to day uncertain. As I feel tired and dizzy most of the time, focusing on the simplest tasks can be very challenging. I'm discovering that there is no "normal" day, so I don't know what kind of employment I'll be able to do this year, but I want to work and I have my feelers out (and I welcome ideas). I'm no longer able to do the meetings management work I was doing for 14 years, due to the extensive travel and long, busy days.
I'm doing the best I can, but as anyone who has experienced significant health issues knows, things can change, and often quickly. And I learned at the end of July from a routine follow-up that more melanoma cells were found in my throat/neck. So, I'll have another surgery the last week of August.
So that's the hard stuff. There is also much good stuff -- many poignant moments in the process. I'm so grateful for all the support I've had thus far: meals in my fridge and rides to the daily treatments; free massages, acupuncture, yoga classes, energy healings and nutritional therapy; neighbors and friends checking in offering money and small appliances; cards, phone calls and e-mails of encouragement; and prayers from many.
My local community of family and friends made the past six months of this so much easier"”so many generous gifts of loving support, and so much gratitude in my heart. And, though farther away, some of you who have been in the loop have offered to help as well. I'd now like to include everyone in my caring circle, with my greatest appreciation.
During these past six months I have not informed everyone I know or asked for help until now because I thought I "had it covered". Now I realize I don't have it all covered and I am asking for a little help. With no income for the time being and my savings depleted, I find I must dig deep into myself, release the shame I felt around not being more financially prepared and ask for financial help.
I'm grateful that some of my medical expenses are covered, but I no longer have sufficient funds to cover rent and utilities, healthy nutritional foods and supplements, and some health-related treatments and therapies for the next year. Friends encouraged me to look into "crowd-funding", by which a little money from a lot people adds up and can go far in helping with expenses. It seems like a great idea, and I chose GoFundMe to help.
I'm reaching out to you for whatever kind of support you might be able to offer. That includes any amount of financial help (my pared-down expenses are about $1,500/month) but also help in reaching out to others in your broad network who may know me -- or not -- and whom you think may be interested.
Please give only if you can do so comfortably. I realize that some of you have challenges of your own, and I wish my circumstances allowed me to help you! Please know that when I can, I certainly will. I have not been a big FaceBook user, so I only have fewer than 100 such friends; any sharing you do is also a gift and will help greatly to reach our broad network of friends and family.
I try each day to appreciate the myriad opportunities this experience is presenting (among them, learning how to ask for and receive help, and reconnecting with old friends!). I'll be posting updates as needed. In the meantime, I look forward to connecting with you, and I wish you wellness, too!
All my best,
If you prefer to send a check, my sister Cate is helping me to navigate this part of the process and will manage deposits to a special bank account in my name. Please include this on the memo:
John's Fund Account 5294, and mail checks to:
â„… Cate Cronin, Bangor Savings Bank, P.O. Box 1387, Camd
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