When I was growing up, I was no stranger to fundraisers. When I was in grade school, I sold chocolate bars for class fundraisers. Then in junior high and high school, I raised money for centers that supported pregnant women. As an adult, I raised funds for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Super Typhoon Yolanda) in the Philippines and for survivors of sexual violence in Greater Boston. This is just a sample of initiatives for which I did fundraising.
Now people are raising funds for me. A group of friends from different stages of my life came together and organized this GoFundMe page to support me in covering medical bills, rent, food, and transportation lost due to my cancer treatment. Basically, since I wrote my last post in June 2021, I found out that I have metastatic breast cancer. I do not want to repeat too many details that are already on the GoFundMe page so you can read it yourself. If you feel inclined to donate and/or share this page, go on ahead.
I have skills in Networking and Negotiating for Healthcare. As you can read in my old post on this topic, I successfully applied to multiple foundations and received funds from them; however, there are limits to those funds.
Plus I did apply recently to another foundation called Remember Betty, but I did not receive funds from them. There was no official letter to notify me as to why they did not award me any support. When I asked my resource specialist at my hospital what else I could do, she listed other foundations to which I could apply. I have been meaning to apply to them as well, but I have been lacking the energy due to my current cancer treatment. Furthermore, I had spent much time writing my essay for Remember Betty. I am not sure how much I want to invest energy into applying for financial support just to be potentially denied funds again. I will apply again, but if you knew how exhausting treatment could be, you would understand why I have not done so yet.
At a certain point, cancer patients have to focus on their own healing and recovery rather than the bills. I did not ask for my friends to create a GoFundMe page for me. I did not have the mindset for it, but after a couple former colleagues offered to organize a fundraiser for me, I figured … Why not? Not everyone has people who love them enough to support them. I also took this as an opportunity to take my advice from my old post Let People Love You: Community Care Knows No Boundaries. Now is the time to ask for funding for myself.
I do not know why, but I feel differently about asking for funds via GoFundMe versus a foundation. I am not saying that those feelings are “right” or “wrong,” but that is how I feel.
One part of it is how people like my former therapist react to GoFundMe campaigns. I wrote about this in Rethinking Gift Giving: I’ve Been Doing It Wrong.
Another part of it is that I can apply to as many foundations as I want, and it does not have to be so public. At the same time, those application processes can be so traumatizing. Often they ask the cancer patient/survivor to explain what circumstances led to them applying for funds from the foundation. In order to show the foundation that I am “worthy” or “deserving” of their money, I have to mentally return to memories that I would rather forget. As I was typing the essay for Remember Betty, I felt tingling and pain go down my arm to my fingers. I had to stop typing so that I could give my body adequate time to rest so that the tingling and pain would subside. Now the GoFundMe may be more public than I want, but I realized that I have to be open if I want support from as wide a network of people as possible.
Even within myself, I could sense that I subconsciously found applying to foundations to be a more “acceptable” way to request support rather than a GoFundMe. Cognitively, I disagree with this, but affectively, that is how I felt. I had to unpack my feelings and thoughts on the matter so I could humble myself and ask for the support that I need.
There is more I can write, but I do not have the energy. I have had to endure so much since my last post that it is not worth sharing all of it at this moment. I need a break from reflecting on it.
If you have good community care, there should be other people to think about it and act on it for you. As much as I pride myself in being independent, there is no shame in asking for support and funding for myself.