This is a really difficult note for our family to make. As you may know, Rakefet (my beautiful wife) was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma). The doctors are optimistic that we have caught it in time, but this is just the beginning of a long road for us. They are pretty certain that the cancer has not entered the lymph nodes, but they will be performing a Double Mastectomy on July 3rd. At that point they analyze the cancer, and we will know whether she will require chemotherapy, hormone therapy and possibly radiation. The doctors tell us that that is generally a 6-8 month process after which we can begin looking at reconstruction options. This is all to say that this is appearing to potentially be a two year ordeal.
I imagine that most of you know that Rakefet and I work side-by-side every day to keep our Zimbabwean marimba school running. When we met in 2012, I had been teaching out of my house for 10 years. We moved in to a warehouse space and renovated it and created the "Rattletree School of Marimba". Over the years, we have had close to 1000 students, friends, and family come and play music with us and we have performed for countless thousands of friends around the world. Having the school has enabled us to support our teachers in Zimbabwe and spread this joyful music. We both feel like we have done our best to humbly enrich the community here in Austin with our offering.
Rakefet has worked tirelessly since 2013 on so many aspects of the school: rehearsals, booking, performing, traveling, administrative work, community outreach, management....the list goes on. She is amazing.
This cancer has much different plans for us.
Just in the last week of this ordeal, we have been driving up to the hospital in Temple, TX almost daily and spending hours each day with doctors and surgeons. This has immediately become a full time job for both Rakefet and myself to navigate this-the bureaucracy, the confusion, the conflicting information, the overwhelm.
We are so grateful and thankful that a portion of our expenses are going to be paid through Rakefet's VA healthcare program. It is such a blessing, but with that blessing is insane amounts of paperwork, bureaucracy, constant energy being expended on making sure that they are giving Rakefet the care she needs-and not just the least expensive care possible.
We are both so afraid that this horrible situation is not only going to be the most difficult thing that we have both endured, but that it will wipe out all the work and energy that we have put in to building this community over the last 6 years. Our fear is that-unlike a regular job where we are working for someone else-if we step away from the school, it will simply go away, and we will not be able to rebuild it.
We are asking for your support in helping us have the financial cushion over these next several months so that we will be able to take the time we need to recover from this. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you who have given so much love and support. We strongly feel that what we have brought to Austin and the community that surrounds us is so much greater than us, and so we are asking for your support now to help us keep things going as we are in this hard time.
With so much love and gratitude,
Rakefet, Joel, and Siena