75
75
5

The Outlier Medical Fund

$10,050 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 80 people in 3 months
Dear Reader,

This is my second version of this appeal; I am more grateful than I can express to all those who responded to my first one, the proceeds of which made it possible for me to take the steps I needed to a couple of weeks ago. Everything happened fast: let me catch you up (and let me also say that local people will find practical ways to help--rides etc--at my Caring Bridge site).

When I wrote the first appeal, I was aware that I was likely approaching a decision point about the next steps in treating my cancer (metastatic colon cancer in my lungs). My test results in September had been mixed, and although I was feeling healthy and strong generally, by early November I could tell something was changing with my breathing, so we moved up my next CT scan and discovered that not only was the blood level of the antigen way up after declining for the previous four months or so, the tumor that impinges on the airway and artery on the left had started to grow, fast.

Much to my surprise, more chemo seemed like a reasonable option to me--I had a very bad first experience with chemo, and at one point in this adventure was more afraid of the effects of additional chemo than I was of dying. There’s really no expectation with metastatic disease that chemo will cure anything; what I am counting on it doing is knocking back the tumor cells enough to buy me some more time to fortify and get out of the way of my immune system so my body can heal itself. (Yes, I do believe that’s possible. I also know that if I pull it off, I will be a serious statistical outlier.)

I also decided that since I have the medical leave time available, I would take the remainder of 2017 off and concentrate fully on my health. I’m also contemplating this issue while I’m on medical leave: the relationship between my stress level and the tumor growth. The only factor I can identify that was different since the end of July, when everything was still shrinking/lowering/improving, and October, when the tumor must have really taken off, was a significant increase in my stress level at work, and I am grappling with whether it’s possible for me to deal with the stresses inherent in my job enough differently that going back to work won’t just fire up the cancer again.  This is not something I enjoy contemplating. I love my work (I’m a psychologist who specializes in trauma treatment) and I’m good at it. I contribute in small but meaningful ways to the reduction of suffering in the most marginalized, stigmatized, misunderstood population of humans you can imagine, and I would very much like to continue doing that in some form. People have encouraged me to focus for now on the healing part, not the work part, but it’s hard for me to extricate them. Every story I’ve read about people who have had documented, medically unexpected remissions from cancer has involved radical change in their lives in one way or another, and I wonder if further transformation of my work life has to be one of them. It’s hard for me to see how I heal while going back to work in the same way.

There’s part of me that’s reading this now and having a strong reaction to me asking for help when I already have so much. It has not been easy or comfortable asking for help of any kind through all this, actually: I run into all sorts of nasty inner chatter about being “worth it” or not, about being to blame for the disease in the first place--shaming, critical stuff I have never felt about others asking for help in this way, but somehow have great trouble shaking off when it comes to me.  But the fact is, the treatments that have been keeping me alive, healthy around the cancer, keeping the cancer confined to the lungs, and mitigating some of the chemo side effects are not covered by insurance, and ultimately require cash, and at this point, I’m not earning enough to cover it all and my savings, which took a big hit the first time around, are nearly gone. And I want to stick around.

So here I am, asking. Again. Despite the mental chatter and the part that says maybe we really should just accept our fate and give up. That’s non-wise mind shame talking, as one of my most important teachers, the visionary and transformative psychologist Marsha Linehan, might put it. She would also agree with Brene Brown, another brilliant researcher/clinician, that the antidote to shame is sunlight: put yourself out there, embrace your authentic self in all your vulnerability, and see what happens. So here we go--thank you for reading, for contributing, for sending good wishes, and for embracing what matters to you in your life and going for it.

Peace,
Amy
+ Read More
Dear Ones, I am so deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and support you've given me, through this platform and in so many other ways! I know that 2018 is going to bring more opportunities and decisions about this ongoing process of healing myself and clarifying the best ways to use my life to serve the whole. It would be deeply satisfying to finish out the year by reaching my original goal-- it's tantalizingly close!

Thank you all, and may the coming year bring blessings and miracles to us all!
+ Read More
Greetings,

There are many things I am grateful for, and chief among them at the moment is you all, and your generous donations. My daily level of background anxiety has dropped massively, I no longer get flashes of panic when I pay for something, and that relief is as valuable to my health and well-being as the treatments your donations are currently supporting.

Even more than usual, I am turning inward this season; the chemo is helping reduce the tumor mass, I'm sure of it, but the underlying question of what it will take for my body to heal completely remains (and I am increasingly confident that it really is possible, in principle, for me), and I'm both doing research and carving out more time to sit quietly and reflect. I'm mostly feeling curiosity about the question these days--somewhere along the line, some of the panicky franticness that I have to figure it out in some rational way dropped away, which is a huge relief, and I think attributable both to your donations and to my own ongoing efforts to drop narratives and patterns that don't serve me.

I wish all the blessings of the season to each of you--may the coming year bring peace, clarity, healing, and great love to us all!

Amy
+ Read More
Here are a couple of pictures that show my eyes, for those friends I haven’t met yet.
Summer 2016
At the Lord Jeffrey Inn
+ Read More
Hi, friends. I’m just catching up on a bunch of emails from people confused about my original appeal. So sorry, and I hope this helps answer the most common questions.

The purpose of this appeal was threefold: to update people on the state of my health, or in some cases, possibly to the fact that I am still alive. The state of my health is as it has been: I have stage four colon cancer, and am feeling astonishingly healthy otherwise.

Another purpose was to allow people who want to help and either don’t know how or aren’t close enough to offer in-person support a way to do something. Local friends will continue to have opportunities to sign up for in-person help on CaringBridge.com (amybrookNY).

And the final purpose was to practice putting myself and my words out there in a small way, both to increase my capacity to take rejection and criticism about things that are important to me, but also to experiment with, and I’m struggling to find a non-cliched way to put this, opening to support and abundance in a different way.

Thank you to all who have contributed, and to all those who might. I’m thinking about ways to use any funds collected in excessive of my needs—a way to share both what helps and the resources to take advantage of it with others fighting serious illness... To be continued!
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update

$10,050 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 80 people in 3 months
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
   Connect
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
CK
$50
Claudia Kulesh
1 month ago
ER
$200
Evan Richardson
1 month ago
$60
sarah Mutschlecner
2 months ago
$200
Robin Kojima
2 months ago
$100
Ivy Shih Leung
2 months ago
JV
$100
Jonathan Vehar
2 months ago
CH
$100
Cecelia Hartsell
2 months ago
$15
Anonymous
2 months ago
PS
$100
Pam Stillwell
2 months ago
$500
Anonymous
2 months ago
or
Or, use your email…
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.