Mr. Rogers said it best:
"When bad things happen, look for the helpers."
But what happens when the helper needs help? My friend Kris is one of those helpers.
In our community of Evanston, Kris has shown up again and again: you have probably come across her through her work as an art therapist or teacher; as an inclusion aide at Cherry Preschool; a member of the CASE board which provides community, advocacy, support and education for families impacted by special needs; via her role as an art therapist leading groups to help adults and children in the homeless shelter through Open Studio Project; and partnering with Chef Q at the very start of the pandemic to provide meals for those with food insecurity.
As a stage 4 colon cancer patient myself, I’ve learned that most journeys through major medical treatment include a key tension:
As a patient, you’re going to need lots of support; but it is incredibly difficult to reach out and ask.
As a member of a patient’s support network, you’re ready and willing to help; but you may not be sure how to go about it—and you may not realize that a broad offer (“Let me know what I can do!”) is unlikely to solicit a direct request.
This tension means that needs go unmet on both sides of the equation—because what I have learned again and again, in my own darkest hours—and while doomscrolling social feeds of so much awful in the world—is that helping others often benefits the helper more than the helpee.
You may not know Kris directly, but I’ll bet you or someone you love has been touched by someone just like her.
And now Kris needs our help. Her commitment to our community has been more personally fulfilling than financially rewarding. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2021—just a year after her rental home burned down—leaving her unable to work and ineligible for unemployment. She had her first surgery a month later, expecting to be back in action in 8-10 weeks, but complications followed, requiring ten more surgeries and ultimately leading to a Stage 4 diagnosis when the cancer was confirmed to have spread.
Kris is a single mom with three dependent children still under her roof – one of whom has delayed attending college in part given their crisis – no remaining savings, and no income from work.
She has a kind landlord, but she is behind in both rent and utility bills. She’s been trying to apply for disability, but the process is long, and confusion and new steps greet her at every turn.
Dealing with my own stage 4 diagnosis has been the scariest thing I have ever faced; I cannot imagine doing it while subsequently worrying about being able to provide essentials for my family.
My goal for this Gofundme is that we help Kris feel a little safer until her disability kicks in, so I’m setting a goal of $50,000—and 500,000 Stars.
Why Stars? Because while it’s difficult to ask for help, it’s easy to ask for the emojis that symbolize the positive energy someone puts out into the world on your behalf.
Maybe you’re not in position to donate, and that’s ok! You can still help, and here’s how:
1. Send a star on this post and encourage others to do likewise. I want Kris to know half a million people are rooting for her.
2. Share this post. As valuable as a donation are the impressions you can create on Kris’s behalf by sharing with your network a chance to help with a microdonation. If Kris’s story touches you, say why you were moved to help and offer others the same opportunity.
3. Make a donation. If you feel inspired and are able to do so, even making a small donation will help. I know that once Kris is well, the first thing she’ll want to do is use this experience to make life easier for other patients, because above all, Kris herself is a helper and a healer.
Thank you! ⭐️