UPDATE DECEMBER 2020: As of this December I completed the manuscript for Sovereign and promptly changed the name to Queen of Wands. I will be reaching out to donors shortly to confirm the details of delivery. Meanwhile, I came within about $2500 of my total fundraising goal, counting donations across all platforms. I've adjusted the total amount of my GoFundMe campaign to the reflect this. Now that the manuscript's complete, I humbly welcome new and existing donors to continue contributing to the campaign. A minimum of $20 USD will secure a signed copy of the book and invitation to a launch event. Meanwhile, anything additional helps cover medical costs, as well as the cost of living while I'm down from upcoming procedures. My new profile picture shows me within Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. I'm anticipating having a second surgery just after Christmas to remove two additional tumors within my breast region (one cancerous, one benign). I may consider pharmaceutical care, to be administered in balance with my natural methods. Within the past year, I began using the hormone-blocker Tamoxifen without major ill effect. I also took the important steps of finalizing my divorce and later moving my children and myself to Atlanta. In the wake of COVID-19, Queen of Wands is no longer just about my cancer journey. It's a deeply personal look at social determinants of health that inspires equity for all.
(Above: Photo by my friend Crystal shows my children and I last October, just shy of my 36th birthday and the beginning of my cancer journey, enjoying cold soda on a hot day during a homeschool field trip to a Georgia farm. Prior to beginning a musical instrument business with my children's father, I worked as a classroom teacher. Now, I use that skill set to educate my children since their autism, dyslexia and other sensory differences respond best to home-based learning for now.)
In 2019, I received the diagnosis of grade 3, stage 2, ductal carcinoma. I also moved with my children into a home I selected and qualified for ON MY OWN for the first time in my 36 years of life.
As of July 8th, I'm recovering from a partial mastectomy and seeking healthy closure--regarding both my role within my musical instrument business and my marriage to its co-founder.
While many aspects of my health and future remain uncertain, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I'm living out the rest of my time on Earth in a more authentic, soul-aligned way than I've done thus far.
I am deeply grateful to the friends and family who continue to help me with my transition. I am also deeply grateful for the daily tragedies, triumphs, joys and challenges which have brought me to exactly this place, at exactly this time.
(Above: Photo by my friend Jeremy shows me reading on stage at Tension & Release, a Rome, Georgia show during which participants used poetry to process the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. I have always used writing to help me deepen my understanding of, and appreciation for, my fleeting life.)
Beginning in 2018 with the chapbook Harvest , I self publish under the imprint BAMF Books and am releasing my first full-length poetry collection, SOVEREIGN, this year. Free verse, lyrical essays and photography will chronicle a deeply human healing journey informed by my personal experience of depression, cancer, divorce and (finally) the choice to embody my own soul and become sovereign within my own life.
Funds gathered through this campaign will insure that SOVEREIGN makes it into print distribution, as well as that I can provide a safe living environment for myself and my children while healing my body and dedicating my life to soul-driven work that I love.
(Above: A cropped selfie shows me hunkered in one of the armchairs at Advanced Clinic for Preventative Medicine in Marietta, Georgia, where I've been receiving life-extending IV therapy since February 2019.)
My oncologist, Dr. April Spencer, performed my surgery and has connected me with doctors offering traditional cancer therapies. However, she also respects my choice to emphasize physical healing through holistic methods--which include IV vitamin C infusions, daily supplements and ongoing lifestyle change.
Following my partial mastectomy in July 2019, Dr. Spencer commented that my malignancies were remarkably isolated and easy to remove--spreading at a slower rate than normal in a more confined way. She acknowledged that my holistic approach to healing my body likely led to this outcome and should remain central to my ongoing care. A post-surgery body scan also revealed that the majority of my body remains free of cancer, with exception to lymph nodes near my surgery site. In order to clear cancer from these lymph nodes, I have agreed to receive 6-8 weeks of external beam radiation, the side effects of which can combated through holistic treatment and rest.
Presently, the cost of my holistic methods is approximately $2,500 USD, out of pocket, each month. It also takes approximately $2,500 USD each month to insure that my family's most basic needs are met. On top of that, my goal is to make an additional $4,000 USD monthly to divide between my debt and my savings. Right now, most will go toward debt. In the future, most will be saved and/or donated to individuals and organizations I wish to see thrive. I intend to meet my needs through a combination of sales commissions (from here and here), freelancing and ongoing creative campaigns--beginning with this one. My overall goal for SOVEREIGN is $9K USD because that equals one month of total financial security for me.
Everyone who contributes to SOVEREIGN will receive my deep gratitude plus a free download of the complete work as a PDF file. Those who contribute at least $20 USD to the campaign will receive a complimentary, signed paperback copy, as well as an invite to the release party. Meanwhile, samples of my previous, published writing are available here.
Thank you for witnessing my journey. I'm grateful for you.
(Above: I shot this photo one week post-op inside my new apartment the evening prior to my daughter's 11th birthday party. I'm looking forward to filling the space with creative energy and frequent celebrations of the life we all share. Below: A selfie snapped in a North Carolina forest shows me attending author Sera Beak's Soul Fire retreat two weeks post-op. In NC, I connected more deeply with my own soul, embraced the pen name Kelli Lynn Grey and began drafting SOVEREIGN in the black notebook I'm holding in my campaign photo.)
A final message from my soul to yours: Life is filled with beauty and terror. Live with compassion. Trust the process.
- Joanne Connor
- Elias Kohn
- Paul Emily Ryan
- Mariam Samha
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