Help Walela Through Chemotherapy
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: i.e. rent, groceries, transportation, cell phone bill - it’s expensive living day to day in Los Angeles especially in a neighborhood like South Central that's being rapidly gentrified
2) Herbal Remedies: These have been one of the few things that have helped with my chemo side effects but also my intestinal issues. Good quality supplements are extremely expensive but they help me live day to day.
3) Acupuncture: Which allows me to be more functional, stimulates my body's self-healing capabilities, helps boost my blood/energy circulation, as well as alleviates many of my secondary health issues.
4) Therapy: 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 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.