With no income during that time period, he had to close his studio. Friends helped to disassemble his equipment, close out his studio space, and put everything into storage. At 63, these circumstances also necessitated him filing for Social Security four years earlier than he had planned on, permanently reducing his monthly amount.
In August of 2016 Patrick was cleared by his surgeon to return to work. He found a new studio location and began putting his ceramics operation back together again. Two months later, while moving a stack of fire-bricks, he suffered what he thought was a back injury. Initially diagnosed by his doctor as a muscle strain, the condition only worsened during two weeks of physical therapy. X-rays were then taken, revealing a partial compression fracture of a vertebrae. A week later, additional x-rays of the vertebrae showed it had completely ‘pancaked’ in an unusually quick and comprehensive manner. A battery of tests followed in December 2016 to try and determine the cause. Initially it was diagnosed as osteoporosis. Shortly thereafter a bone marrow biopsy was performed and the resulting diagnosis was Multiple Myeloma, a form of blood cancer that adversely impacts bone. At present, there is no cure.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments began immediately. Ten months later he underwent a stem cell transplant which has achieved a partial remission. Daily medication is required to maintain the remission, and there are many side effects to that medication: leg cramps, skin rashes, constant skeletal pain and fatigue among them. Additionally he receives a bone-builder every three months. His recovery period has taken well over a year, as he works constantly to rebuild his strength and stamina. That is an ongoing process. After several 'false starts', he has finally returned to working in the studio again as his health permits.
Despite finally being able to produce work again, because of these multiple medical conditions Patrick has struggled financially throughout the past four years and has accumulated significant debt from that time period. The majority of his monthly Social Security payment is now used to cover studio rent, and the modest income from recent sales of his work fails to keep up with both living expenses and interest payments on that debt. Funds raised through GoFundMe will be used solely for the purpose of paying off this debt. The daily stress of dealing with an incurable disease is compounded by financial stress. My wish is that by helping to rid him of some of this pressing debt, his health will benefit from that alleviation and he will be able to focus on and continue what his mentor Norm Schulman once told him was, “...the work you were meant to do.”
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