Help Shayla Lawson Fight for Her Life

On October 11, 2021, author and poet Shayla Lawson almost lost her eye.
Had it not been for the quick actions of close friends, she almost certainly would have. Shayla has spent the better part of her life battling an undiagnosed autoimmune illness, but only learned in September that what she’s been fighting is a genetic autoimmune disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It attacks joint tissue and can also attack vascular systems. It can be lethal.

Shayla’s condition and quality of life has rapidly deteriorated.
Due to EDS, Shayla’s body is capable of dislocation at any moment. One day it’s her eye. The next it’s her fingers. Then her wrists. Trying to make money as a writer and professor is hard enough when able-bodied. Sometimes her body dislocates when merely lying in bed. Shayla has been sick for twenty-five years, but this recent onslaught of EDS is like nothing she has experienced: it’s fast, and it’s tearing her apart.

Right now, Shayla is fighting for her life. She even has to fight her doctor.
She is fighting against this syndrome. She is fighting the brutal American healthcare system, which so often only causes more suffering. She is also fighting the last people she should have to fight: her own healthcare providers, whose misogynoir is stopping Shayla from attaining the testing and support she needs to keep her body functioning. On more than one occasion, Shayla has been told she’s being “dramatic” in asking for the testing and care she needs. Apparently nearly losing an eye to this disorder isn’t proof enough that Shayla needs support and she needs it now.

Those of us who know and love Shayla are asking for your help.
The American publishing industry isn’t known for supporting the authors whose work keeps the book industry going, so those of us who love Shayla have put together this campaign to ask any and everyone to donate whatever they can to meet the following needs that Shayla requires to stay afloat as she battles this devastating illness that has so suddenly taken over her life.

We are asking for funds that will cover:

- A foldable mobility scooter that will allow Shayla to get around. At the moment, her joints can become dislocated completely without warning.
- Specialized EDS splints that will keep her finger joints from dislocating, enabling her to continue writing (her life’s work) as well as live her daily life. These splints also prevent long-term deformation.
- A specialized EDS nutritionist, who can provide specific guidance for relieving pain and fortifying Shayla's health for now and the future.
- An assistant who can help manage Shayla’s schedule and inbox until Shayla is able to resume typing and other tasks that involve the use of her hands.
- Household help. Right now, Shayla is unable to lift a bag of groceries without putting herself at serious physical risk.
- Dog-walking service. Shayla rescued Sammie a decade ago and he has been a source of constant support. In Shayla’s current state, she can’t walk him without running the risk of dislocation and collapse.

Shayla has been working in service of women and children for over twenty years. She has been an unwavering advocate for Black and queer creators. Those of us who are putting together this campaign in her name don’t believe that anyone should have to prove their “usefulness” to deserve care and support, so we name Shayla’s contributions just so that, even as we show her pain to the world in the form of this campaign, we also celebrate the wonder of her, the love of her, the art of her.

Time is of the essence.
Shayla Lawson is so much more than her diagnosis. But right now, EDS is taking her apart. And it’s moving fast. We ask that you donate any amount to help keep this wonderful woman’s body functioning. If you can’t donate, please share far and wide – and pray.

Thank you.
  • Gabriel Tomlin 
    • $31 
    • 25 d
  • Gabe Tomlin 
    • $3,000 
    • 3 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $125 
    • 3 mos
  • Jason Mai 
    • $20 
    • 3 mos
  • Jeremy Clark 
    • $200 
    • 3 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Dan Bernitt 
Amherst, MA
Shayla Lawson