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Help Brad Rebuild After Cancer Recurrence

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On my inner-right forearm, reaching toward my wrist, is a tattoo of a hammer. The word "hope" is etched into its cheek. I put this on my body to remember a battle inside of me, one that—much like a hammer—holds a power to both build and destroy. For some time my hammer has done both, and sometimes I’ve had to destroy things in order to build again.

Six years ago, I was diagnosed with classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive yet highly treatable form of blood cancer. I was 28 at the time, a bartender in grad school, and one day the floor fell from under my feet. I had cancer, and either I destroyed it or it destroyed me.

Why this happened felt like an anomaly, but that didn’t matter anymore. I immediately started treatment and didn’t look back, and just six months after diagnosis, I was declared in remission.

So I started to build again—exercised daily, ate all my vitamins, did my blood tests, dealt with a handful of scares—and after five years, as two vials of blood were pulled from a vein just above my hammer tattoo, I was told I was cured of cancer.

It was hard to believe, honestly, and the pinpricks of health anxiety didn’t just *disappear*. So I continued listening to my body, and sometime over winter my body began to speak.

Warning signs of lymphoma like itching, night sweats, and low-grade fevers started happening in waves. I ignored them at first until I couldn't anymore, and just a few days after Street Spirit published its inaugural issue back in March, I decided to make an appointment.

In April, after a series of blood tests and imaging scans, I was diagnosed with a late recurrence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and immediately started a new regimen of chemo, this time with newer immunotherapy drugs that engage my immune system to attack cancerous cells. Soon after I’ve completed chemo, I’ll undergo an inpatient stem cell transplant at UCSF to totally reset my immune system before spending the rest of summer in isolation as my body begins to rebuild itself, a process that takes a full year.

As a result, I am stepping away from my position at Street Spirit for the time being to concentrate on health, complete all the treatments, and get through the front end of my immunocompromised status. After the stem cell transplant, my stamina and immune defenses will be extremely low and I will not be able to go into public spaces, let alone to the grocery store, for upwards of two to three months. While my prognosis is very good and I will be deemed cured once and for all within time, it’s a huge life shift that has been as formidable as it is heartbreaking.

As many of you know, we’ve been working so hard to get Street Spirit back out in the world, and it’s been extremely difficult to put that work aside as I navigate this diagnosis. This GoFundMe will help support all of my expenses over the next three to four months, after which I will return to Street Spirit in my full capacity.

But I look at this hammer on my arm and remember why it’s there, what it represents—that once this cancer has fully been destroyed I’ll have the opportunity to build again, as I’ve already done once before. One word has carried me through these past six years as a cancer patient: hope. And it will continue to carry me through a long, healthy life once I put this chapter behind me.

I appreciate you all for your love and support, and cannot wait to get back to it once this is all said and done. Until then, I’ll be over here with my hammer.

All of my love,
Brad
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Donations 

  • Betty Weins
    • $50 
    • 7 d
  • Rina Neiman
    • $250 
    • 7 d
  • Kayla Goodwin
    • $100 
    • 8 d
  • Angie Avila
    • $50 
    • 14 d
  • Angela Avila
    • $150 
    • 15 d
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Organizer

Bradley Penner
Organizer
Berkeley, CA

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