Rakefet's Breast Cancer Fund

$34,696 of $60,000 goal

Raised by 438 people in 4 months
Hello dearest friends and family,

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
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Hi Friends,
I am so grateful for each and every one of you. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve gotten this far without your love and generously. Last night I got home after a week in the hospital. I had my breast reconstruction on Tuesday, October 9th and then a couple days later I was rushed back into the OR for 7 more hours of emergency surgery to fix one of the new vascular connections. Fortunately we’re pretty sure that things are back on the right track. It was nice to get a good night’s sleep in the recliner at home last night. I’m able to walk hunched over (to protect the abdominal incision) for a few steps before getting out of breath which is progress.
I’m celebrating each small milestone. I’ll be home bound for at least a month and perhaps more.
Love you! Rakefet
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Dear friends and family,

It's with sadness and resignation that Joel and I announce the closing of the Rattletree School of Marimba. This cancer journey has taken a toll and as I prepare for my reconstruction surgery two weeks from today, it's simply too much to keep the School going.

Thank you for being a part of this beautiful community and supporting us over the years as we built this dream together. It's been an honor to share the music with so many of you.

The elite student band - Kupira Marimba - will continue to perform and study with Joel. He is also open to teaching folks who are drawn to this music as those opportunities come up. Unfortunately the cost of maintaining the school is just too great, and our family isn't able to make ends meet.

Your continued support will help us to transition to new opportunities once I am able to work again and will help with the mounting medical bills.

Love and Gratitude,
Joel and Rakefet
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Hello Friends and Family,

Thank you for showing up for me, Joel and Siena over these last several months, as we navigate this breast cancer journey.

I'm 7 weeks post-op from the double mastectomy and 7 weeks pre-op for the DIEP Flap reconstruction surgery. It's a strange period of limbo where I'm gently easing back into some "normal" activities though nothing about life seems "normal" at all. It's kind of like living in the Twilight Zone.

It feels good to get dressed and leave the house. It makes me feel like a "real" human being. That was my intention yesterday I went to a women's dance class to move and be with my tribe. Instead of relaxing and having fun I was seized with an overwhelming fear about not knowing what movements were safe for my constantly changing body. Thank goodness for my yoga and meditation training which brought me back to my breath and reminded me to have compassion for myself.

You see - I have these uncomfortable & sometimes painful tissue expanders (basically balloon boobs filled with saline) that are holding open pockets of skin for my breast reconstruction. The surgeon removed all of the tissue and fascia underneath my breast skin and sewed in Alloderm (sterilized cadaver skin - I feel like a science project y'all ;-) into my body to reinforce these pockets. The Alloderm needs to bond and settle into my body and it is connected with internal sutures. The slightest wrong movement can cause an intense shooting pain near my sternum. I'm terrified that I'll make a mistake and that something will go wrong again like when I had to be admitted to the hospital a few weeks ago for a skin infection that seemed to come out of nowhere. I was on IV and oral antibiotics until last week, and thank goodness the infection has cleared up.

It's a gift to be feeling mostly better and quite a learning experience to over the course of a few months all of a sudden not to feel safe in my body.

My number one priority for the next 7 weeks is to stay present rather than let the swirling fear and anxiety about my upcoming surgery for which I'll be in the hospital for 3-5 days and will have an 8-10 week recovery darken my days. It's taking every bit of brain power and physical energy to keep myself sane and to be present for Joel and our kiddo Siena (who just started 5th grade on Monday - yay!). Thank goodness for therapy and friends!

THANK YOU for keeping me going! Thanks for the gifts of love, financial support, the community song circle at my house, laughs, massages, pre-surgery hypnosis, EMDR trauma treatment, shoulders to sob on, homemade treats, Netflix recommendations, books, nourishing dinners, cleaning our house, washing our laundry, stories read aloud, rides to the doctor, play dates and summer camp for Siena, braiding my hair, taking me to get my hair washed when I had t-rex arms, sound baths in the hospital, dark chocolate and copious amounts of damn good ice cream, walks around the lake and the hood, and so much more.

If you'd like to continue to help out here are some concrete ways:

1. Please share this Go Fund Me campaign so I can continue to focus on healing.

2. Invite me out to do something FUN (though low key) before my surgery on Oct. 9th. Being an extrovert I recharge by hanging out with friends :-)

3. Join me on the dance floor at RakefetFest - A World Music Benefit Concert ft. Atash, Seu Jacinto, Bamako Airlines, PaulaMaya & DJ Félix (of Cilantro Boombox) on Friday, Sept. 14th at the Parish.
GET TICKETS: https://tinyurl.com/y8slx3b4

4. Join the Care Calendar/Meal Train (we'll be adding more tasks in October for the fall recovery) - https://aflacmycancercircle.com/community/support-rakefets-journey

5. Get a mammogram and/or encourage your loved ones to get screened.

6. Consider booking Kupira Marimba for your upcoming event.

7. Learn to play marimba with Joel. The new Intro to African Marimba class starts on Wednesday, Sept. 5th. Call us at 512.417.2041 to Sign Up.

8. Do you or someone you know have experience booking gigs professionally? Let us know if you'd like to help us with TX bookings for the fall and spring while I get well.

Thanks for reading my update and for being a part of my tribe. I Love You!

Deep gratitude,

PS. What do you think of the new short hair cut? I love how bouncy and curly it is!
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Hi Friends,

Thank you for all of your continued love and support over these last couple of months since my breast cancer diagnosis. Today marks 3 weeks post-op from my bilateral mastectomy and lymph node dissection. We have so much to be grateful for!

The pathology came back with clear lymph nodes and clear surgical margins, and according to the most recent data I do not need chemo or radiation. This is a huge relief! It means that if all goes well with my second major surgery in October that I will likely be back on my feet and hopefully back to work by the beginning of 2019!

In October I'll be undergoing a DIEP Flap reconstruction where the surgeon transplants tissue from my abdomen to my chest and then does several hours of microsurgery to reconnect the blood vessels. The surgery can take about 12 hours and will require a 3-5 day hospital stay. The recovery period is much longer (6-8 weeks) and from what I hear more painful than the mastectomy since I'll have two major surgery sites (abdomen and breasts). It's daunting, but I know it's the right choice to use my own tissue to create breasts rather than implants.

In the meantime going to doctor's appointments is my full time job. Fortunately, I can drive short distances now on my own! Yay freedom! I started taking an estrogen blocker (Tamoxifen) to minimize the risk of the cancer coming back in a distant location. This medication can cause cataracts and uterine cancer and also interacts poorly with the anti-depressants I was taking. So I have dr. appointments several times a week for testing, monitoring my new meds, post-op check ups, pre-op appointments, oh and an endoscopy & colonoscopy for cancer screening in August because my mom and her mom also had colon cancer at a young age...ah genes.

My incisions are healing and my energy is increasing a little each day. They put in tissue expanders which feel like hard water balloons to keep my breast skin healthy before the reconstruction. They are so uncomfortable and sometimes painful since they press on my chest wall. I'm still taking it easy and working on range of motion exercises. I used to take my flexibility and certain yoga poses for granted. I hope I will briefly be able to get back to a gentle yoga practice to get my body ready for my next surgery.

Thanks again for your help and for being a part of my tribe. I look forward to being able to give back to you and to pay it forward when I'm healthy again. Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like more information about my cancer journey. I'm also happy to share my experience with any of your friends or family who would benefit from talking to someone who has been through it.

Joel, Siena and I are so happy to have almost reached 50% of our fundraising goal. Every little bit truly helps us and our family business get through this time. Thank you! If you feel moved to share the campaign on your social media, we'd be super grateful. Other ways to help are:

Book Rattletree or Kupira Marimba for Your Private or Business Event, or City Festival! Grants are available through the Texas Commission on the Arts to cities and non-profits for fall and 2019 bookings.

Kupira Marimba's high-energy joyful acoustic music is a foot stomping, heart pounding, hand clapping event for the whole family.

Rattletree - Voted Austin's Best World Music Band - is a must-see multi-sensory live show experience of electronic marimbas triggering ethereal synth sounds, guitar, mbira and drums.

Join the Care Calendar/Meal Train (we'll be adding more tasks in the fall) - https://aflacmycancercircle.com/community/support-rakefets-journey

Get Tickets for RakefetFest - A World Music Benefit Concert at the Parish Featuring Atash, Seu Jacinto, Bamako Airlines, PaulaMaya & DJ Félix (of Cilantro Boombox) https://www.facebook.com/events/290701401499750

Have a wonderful day!

Love and Deep Gratitude,
Rakefet, Joel & Siena
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$34,696 of $60,000 goal

Raised by 438 people in 4 months
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