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22 February 2012 / stageivhope

So Much Gratitude

poopstrong.org

As I mentioned at the end of my most recent post last month, I expected to soon run out of my insurance benefit. Well, it happened with my last treatment in January. In less than one year, the costs of colon cancer treatment (all the stuff you’ve been reading about here on the blog: two surgeries, many rounds of chemo, a handful of ER visits and hospitalizations,  as well as the cost of colostomy supplies) used up $300,000 in insurance reimbursements. Meanwhile, should my current treatment regimen continue through August (when I will fortunately have insurance coverage once again, either due to the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan offered through the federal government, or through a newly negotiated student health care plan offered through ASU), there’s the possibility that I could be on the hook for upwards of $100,000 or even more in medical expenses. (The hope is that some of those charges will be written off, the pharma companies will offer discounted drugs, and that we’ll also be billed at a lower rate than Aetna was. Should that be the case, the cost of care — i.e., the amount of potential debt we could accrue — will be less and that come August, we’d be donating a nice chunk of change to other worthy organizations that deal with cancer treatment, support, and survivorship.)

So, as many of you already know by now, I’m turning to all of you and the rest of the internet world to come to my assistance. On Wednesday afternoon, we went live with my new fundraising website: http://www.poopstrong.org. Over at the Poop Strong site, you can find information on a variety of ways to provide assistance — ranging from buying t-shirts and bracelets and other goodies, to contributing to the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Patient Assistance Fund.

I started off by sharing news of the site on Facebook and figured I’d then get to this blog and email some folks. Yet before I even had a chance to share here or via email, Facebook sharing alone seemed to send the website viral in just a few days. In less than a week, we’ve gotten more than 20,000 visitors to the site. And even more exciting is that some 500+ people have made donations or bought items from the store. Just a few days into things — with seemingly everyone I’ve ever met in my entire life sharing the Poop Strong site on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social media sites there are out there — we’ve already raised thousands of dollars. Getting to $100k will still be a long process, no doubt, but it’s so incredibly heartening to see so many folks rally behind me. I’ve been absolutely blown away by all the support. I already knew I had an amazing group of friends and family around me, but what’s amazed me is how willing people I haven’t talked to in years have been to donate and share news of the site.

While being diagnosed with late stage colon cancer and then having to deal with the possibility of bankruptcy sure aren’t the most enjoyable things in the world to be concerned with, this outpouring of kindness and generosity has reminded me yet again how lucky and privileged I truly am. Those of you who have doubted it should reconsider: the world is filled with many, many kind and generous people.

I suppose that my story is somewhat compelling; no matter where you fall on the political spectrum or how you feel about healthcare reform there’s something attention-grabbing about the story of someone who’s done nothing wrong, except to have the misfortune of being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer a good 40 years before the average age of diagnosis. Nevertheless, there are plenty of other people in the world who’ve experienced misfortune, as well. So the fact that so many people, including many that I’ve never even met, are willing to help me out during this time of need makes me incredibly grateful.

But like I said, none of this would be possible if I weren’t so lucky to know so many wonderful, talented and generous people. The website, for instance, has been in the works for quite some time and I’ve gotten tons of assistance from a variety of friends.  To be honest, it’s been my friends who’ve done virtually all the work; I’ve simply made requests and written text, while they’ve done the rest. If I didn’t happen to know an absolutely expert web developer (thanks, Jesse Kriss!) and a number of really fantastic artists and designers (thanks, Ayrel Clark, Doug Mack, and Chinn Wang!), I’m certain that this web-based fundraising effort wouldn’t be nearly where it is.

So thanks again to everyone. This past week has been wild and words cannot begin to capture just how thankful and appreciative I am.

***

Lastly, for those of you on Facebook you can “Like” the Poop Strong page by clicking here. And we’ve now got a Twitter account for Poop Strong that you can follow here. Keep spreading the word!

poopstrong.org

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5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. lj / Feb 22 2012 10:59 AM

    For anyone whose employer has a matching gifts program, note that gifts to UACC Patient Assistance Fund may qualify, since they’re tax-deductible. Corporate sponsorship for Ari’s colon.

  2. P / Feb 22 2012 2:51 PM

    Prabal Gurung just gave a RT to my tweet about poopstrong. Hope that brings more attention!

  3. Lauren / Feb 22 2012 6:41 PM

    Arijit – just saw your post on Joe’s FB page and couldn’t believe it when I read of your diagnosis. I hope you’ll be flooded with donations as the word gets out…so awesome about the relay this weekend. Will be thinking of you and your wife and praying for a quick and full recovery, sans medical bankruptcy!

  4. S / Feb 24 2012 6:47 PM

    Hi Ari.

    I’m a Carleton alum who learned about you via the alumni affairs facebook feed. Hopefully someone has already suggested this to you, but if you haven’t spoken to an attorney/accountant yet, please consider it.

    I’m not an accountant or attorney, so I don’t have first hand advice to give you. But I have friends who ran into tax trouble after selling merchandise to fund a charitable endeavor. I dont know all the details, but i believe since they didn’t register as a charity, it was considered personal income. They were able to write off a big chunk of what they raised by doing the actual donation to the charity, but it was all a big hassle and they did end up paying some of it in federal and state taxes. I think it also complicated financial aid applications for their kids and such for a couple of years. I’d hate for you and your family to run into any trouble, and I hope that every penny raised can go towards your treatment.

    Best of luck
    S

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