Sunday, October 26, 2014

I hadn't checked my...

I hadn't checked my bank balance in a while. I try not to; it is often too scary to contemplate. When I was diagnosed with cancer I had been trying to pay off my credit card debt. I was doing good, too, I would have been paid off within the year.

But then, as they say, "disaster struck." Thankfully something told me not to give all the money I had to my debts, and I had a bit of savings to live off of, and at the time I just wanted to make it to the end of chemo, which was predicted to be around the end of the year. At that time, I had hoped that things would "get back to normal."

I wound up asking for help, as I knew I couldn't make it without it. That is when this blog went from anonymous to being about "Elizabeth Alraune." I put my name, my face, and other things about myself here in the hope that it would give me and my situation "credibility."

It was painful to have to ask for help. It hurt for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I was giving up any semblance of privacy that I had prior to that time. There was a part of me that was terrified.

What followed has been something that I don't even know how to begin to describe in just a few words. There are over 1200 blog posts and 250 videos that have probably not even scratched the surface of what I have dealt with in the last 2+ years as a result of being so public, and so publicly "needy."

I have requested countless times for help in a myriad of forms - not just money. I have asked people to share about my book Sometimes It Sucks to be Human, my Cedonaah/Facebook.com/Cedonaah artwork and jewelry, my MP3s Relatingtocancer.com/mp3s.html, my recipes GreatFoodEscape.com, and have done all I can to express my need for help.

Often my need is judged by others in some way negative, or I am in some way judged negative for my approach, although I cannot imagine what another way to be would be. I need help! It really is that simple, and there are often times I feel as though I am failing at "marketing my illness."

Many times there will be other people involved when a person needs money and financial support. It sounds a lot different when it comes from someone else than it does when it comes from the someone in need.

Well. I don't have that. The fact is that a lot of the "shoulds" that people think I should have, I don't have either. I also don't "present" well as someone who is dealing with cancer. I sound and look too good for most to think I need help.

Ken Newman has had a couple of fundraisers for me, for which I am incredibly grateful. He raised less than $1000. Some may read that, and think that I am ungrateful for what I received. The fact is that I am sharing that fact because despite being a "fundraiser," it was a finger in a gushing crack in a dam. It helped me get by a bit longer because of it, and I can't thank those who did contribute enough. But it wasn't enough for me to have to stop asking for help. It wasn't a "miracle cure" for my finances. Sandra Bearden also has done what she can, along with others that she has recruited, but in the big picture, the huge crack still exists.

Someone in the NYC area offered to play a concert to benefit me, but needed someone to spearhead the event. I haven't found anyone yet. I even wondered if at some point I could do it. But how? It takes a lot of investment to make that happen. I know Ken and others put a lot of effort into what they did, and I think they may have been more disappointed than I was for the net result. And if I did it, then it would take my limited energy away from other things.

It is very difficult to ask anyone to make that kind of "investment." It is one reason why I have never directly asked anyone to do a fundraiser for me. I have said things in round about ways, but never directly to anyone have I said, "Will you please do a fundraiser for me?" For some that might be an "obvious" thing to ask/do, but it is even more awkward than anything else I have done, and given the reaction I have received when I have said some things, I feel like I don't want to touch the hot stove again.

Sherri Robbins has offered to do a fundraiser, and the date is set for November. She had shot to do one earlier this year, but the turnout had been minimal. She is someone who could easily not do anything for me, as she is dealing with her own issues. The fact that she is extending herself in the way that she is makes her all the more special to me.

I also recently met someone who "within minutes" of meeting with me and talking about my situation, was seeing what she could do to pull together an event to help me. A VIRTUAL STRANGER - within minutes. She is dealing with her own stuff, too, but felt drawn to want to help.

Whether or not it happens remains to be seen. But I am so grateful for her willingness to even consider the undertaking. There are people who know me better and longer who have not even gone close to there.

It is a tough topic. Many will say those that can't/won't help aren't "true" friends. I don't know that I would agree with that. But what I do know is that the topic of cancer is a difficult one, and I think it may only be topped in a degree of difficulty when it comes to the topic of cancer and money/finances. So many people have told me they couldn't possibly talk to their friends/family/community about me because those people don't know me. It's just too awkward.

And, yet, when others do talk about me, total strangers have contributed.

In my book, I mention that early on my mother gave me some money, but I don't say how much. I was told I should probably say, as some might think it was a significant amount. Well. In the time that I have been dealing with cancer, I will tell you that I have received less than $500 from her. I was hesitant to say much more, as I am all too aware of how it might make her feel by my sharing this.

But I feel I need to talk about it, as I feel there are things that people wonder about, and they probably think that somehow I must have a storehouse of money or someone who takes care of me. Well. I have neither. It really is just me, myself and I. And unfortunately we're all struggling to try to find a way to either get an income or get much needed help.

The fact is that I have had some strangers be quite generous with me. and there are a few people that I have depended on during these last years. It is the only way that I have made it as far as I have. I am almost 2 years beyond where I wanted to get. What has happened is impossible without the help that I have received. It is incredible that I have gotten this far.

But here's the thing...I am almost out of money and I am struggling with how to once again say I need help. The refrain has come way too many times in the last couple of years. It is why I am sitting here writing what I am. Maybe if I put my thoughts and experience together in one place instead of a little here and a little there maybe it will help people better understand how difficult this is for me on so many levels.

I have also discovered that once you enter the maze called "cancer," it is not the easiest thing to have things return to "normal," or at least the normal you once knew. Chemo has left me with lingering aches and pains and my mind still has residual blips that are so frustrating and annoying. I try to let people know what I am dealing with so that they don't think that I am somehow not doing what they think I "obviously" should have been doing.

A couple of days ago, I was in the store, and a friend gave me money to buy something since I was buying other things. She, in return, should have gotten change and the item. Well. I got home and promptly put the item away - completely forgetting that it was HERS! I also completely forgot about the money she gave me. The whole exchange we had disappeared from my mind. *POOF*

The only reason I have since remembered is because she asked me about it. And when she did I was mortified. I was embarrassed. It sucked so much. And now I can't forget it because there is a lot of scarring emotional impact. But this isn't the first time that something has disappeared. It happens way too often, and many times, people may have no idea because the one that is mostly affected is me. But the times it affects other people and how they may see me really suck more than I could probably ever convey.

I live in a world in which people think that someone who doesn't do something is rude, ungrateful and a whole slew of other not so great adjectives. When people do not understand when another is facing issues that make things happen in a way they cannot understand or appreciate, it can create unfortunate issues. There are many times I am on pins and needles when dealing with other people. What stays in my mind, and what goes, is not predictable. Some say "make a list." Well you have to remember that you made one, first, for it to have some value.

I have tried to make the things that I offer/do reasonably priced. I think most of my work is under $25. I would love to charge more, of course, as there is a lot that goes into them, but my thought has been that the smaller amounts could add up. I have thought that there is a lot of good stuff in my work that is valuable at the amount I am asking. Thankfully I don't think I am making this up, as others have acknowledged the quality of my work, and have even expressed dismay at my not seemingly being able to be doing well.

That, too, is awkward. I have no idea how to understand that piece of the puzzle, other than somehow it has something to do with the "c" word.

It leaves me in a void. It is one I don't know how to leave. I am sure there is so much more to this conversation. But it is a hard one to have when I often wind up feeling defensive by what people's reactions are, and by the fact that I "need" to have people's help or purchases in the first place.

The best I can hope for is that people who read this, or come in contact with me, have some compassion and understanding for me and my situation, even if they can't understand what I am facing. The fact that I have said so much in this blog is likely overwhelming to most people. It is a lot easier to stay away. I don't blame anyone, really.

But in the midst of the reactions of others, I am standing here needing to find a way to get help. So often people tell me that others don't matter. "Forget them," they say. Well. If I had lots of money and no worries I could live in isolation and not care what others thought, said or did. But I don't.

I need to care about you not only because I need your help, but because it is a part of who I am. I often try to see all sides of an issue - even when others may think I don't. Believe me when I say I have considered probably almost anything you could say to me at this point.

There have been times I have been told I even do that too much, which of course is ironic when I don't seem to be doing it.

Please know that if you can or will help me, I am extremely grateful for whatever you might do. Even if you contributed $1, it means a lot. I have smiled big smiles when I see those types of donations because those people have truly gotten how much I truly mean each and every $1 will help. So many say they can't afford to help, but it's probably because they think it has to be some significant amount.

Well $1 is a significant amount to me. It really does add up. No one fundraiser has given me what I need for any length of time. It is the smaller amounts that have made the difference in the big picture.

If you would like to help me financially, please visit Heartsgiving.com where you can find out how to help (including a tax-deductible option). You could also visit any of the links I mentioned above and buy something that would be of interest/that would be potentially helpful to you. I am also willing to entertain using my work to help financially help/support another in need, so if you know anyone else who needs to raise funds, please have them get in touch with me.

I need ACTION right now. I need people to do more than click LIKES and share. It probably helps in some way, but it doesn't help me pay my bills and eat. If there is any way you can help make that happen, I would be incredibly grateful.

Thank you.

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