On Monday, April 10, 2017, I went to see a doctor for persistent severe headaches and dizziness. A blood test revealed that I have Leukemia - specifically phase III (blastic) Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. My white blood cell count had reached 660,000 (normal being 5,000 to 10,000). It is a miracle that I was not killed by this extremely high count - it takes much less to cause a stroke. CML is generally a manageable leukemia but because my cancer went undiagnosed for 2-3 years, it mimics a more acute aggressive leukemia as well as has a mutation known as T315I.
In 2017, I was immediately admitted to the oncology unit where my initial treatment included daily leukapheresis to literally pump my blood through a machine that removes white blood cells. The mid and long-term treatments include chemotherapy (I am currently taking a large dose of Tasigna twice a day which had a 10% chance of working on me) and potentially, in the case of an emergency, a bone marrow transplant.
As a community organizer, I have focused my attention on helping others. As a well-known poet, being featured on platforms like VICE i-D, Huffington Post, Instyle Magazine, Bustle, and Afropunk, I have championed the causes of gender equality, feminism, Black liberation /self-determination, and overall societal change. Now I really need yall to help champion my fight against leukemia.
In January 2018, I returned to work again to discover that I was constantly contracting infections (from intestinal to respiratory), I also was becoming rapidly fatigued, having severe intestinal issues, and more. Many of the medications I was put on, conflicted with my chemo, meaning I would have to go off my chemo to heal whatever ailment I had, then go back on - leaving my cancer to move regressively. Leukemia naturally suppresses my immune function pair that with an extremely high dose of oral chemo twice a day, my immune system is very fragile. Additionally, chemo wrecks my body in other ways i.e. every day is a battle against fatigue, digestive ailments, joint & bone pain.
Now, for the sake of my hopeful remission, I am forced to fully focus on my health and can't work. I am a community organizer and poet as well and even through this illness, I still am committed to finding ways in which I can continue to contribute to my community. If everything with my chemo goes well, I will hopefully be off it in 3-4 years (rough estimate), which is a very long time to live like this. Additionally, navigating receiving proper healthcare & government services has been a time-consuming nightmare that often doesn't even generate enough income for sick people, as a whole, to even live comfortably. The money I am raising will go towards allowing me to survive while I cannot work which includes:
1) General Living Expenses
2) Herbal Remedies
My mental health has taken a huge nose dive to the point in late January 2019 I became suicidal. I luckily have found a therapist and psychiatrist I get along very well with who is trained in cancer & trauma - seeing him weekly is very pricey but a necessary expense.
5) Emergency Funds
: in the event that I need to go to an ER, or I'm re-admitted to a hospital due to unforeseen circumstances, or if my caregivers need to take off work to take care of me or as most cancer patients can understand, the unknown.