Poop Strong Is Dead. Long Live Poop Strong.
A few days ago, in an email to friends and family and a post on the Facebook page, I announced that I’d be dissolving Poop Strong after the end of the year. Given the response, I feel like a bit of explanation is in order.
Poop Strong is, and always was, a fundraising platform—first to cover Arijit’s medical expenses, and then to help other cancer patients in need. Not to detract from Arijit’s hard work and dedication, but it’s really a happy accident that Poop Strong became something more than a plea for money. No one could have predicted how it would blow up, or how Arijit would become a spokesperson for healthcare reform and patient advocacy, or how many people his story would touch. But, in the beginning, it was little more than a website selling silly shirts and collecting money so we wouldn’t go broke.
In soliciting donations for the Poop Strong FUNd, I’ve come to realize that I’m really bad at this. Fundraising requires a certain type of personality and a certain amount of energy to do well, and I have neither. Arijit, though, had the magnetism and drive to be successful.
He also, I’ve come to realize, had me.
Part of the reason that Arijit could throw himself in Poop Strong with such force is that he wasn’t doing it alone. He could spend all day online posting updates and engaging in Twitter battles because he had a wife who cooked meals and ran errands and did laundry and paid bills and cleaned the apartment and fed the cat and somehow managed to fit in her paying job. I ran our household so he could run Poop Strong, and we were a great team. I am still running said household, except now I’m doing it alone with the added work of grieving and putting my life back together. Even if I had Arijit’s knack for this sort of thing, I can’t do it all. I never could. And so, once the campaign for the FUNd is over and the remaining monies have been donated, I’ll be officially closing the Poop Strong store and accounts and updating the website one last time.
But this doesn’t mean that the work is over. Poop Strong has come to represent so much more than one man’s struggles with insurance. It long ago moved beyond raising money and into raising awareness. It’s about educating and engaging and advocating and speaking for those who lack a voice. It’s about making your world a little kinder and more beautiful. It’s about compassion and justice and hope.
This is not the end of Poop Strong—Poop Strong is Arijit’s legacy of goodness and love, and no one can stop that. I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to carry those ideals into the future, but I know it has to be in a way that feels true to me, and to him, and to us, and fundraising isn’t it. I still plan on writing here, and posting to the Facebook page, and Twittering. I imagine there will be a lot of trial and error, but I want to keep the conversation Arijit started going. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like, but I owe it to him to try.
I’m still in awe of what Arijit accomplished with Poop Strong. I wear my bracelets every day as a reminder of what an amazing and inspiring man he is. But I know there’s a lot left to do.
Let’s see how far we can go.
Also, for those of you who didn’t know, or who perhaps just didn’t realize the date, December 5th would have been Arijit’s 33rd birthday. I spent the day hiking in Flagstaff, where it was cold and snowy (at least by Phoenix standards; feel free to laugh if you live in a place that regularly experiences this thing called winter). Being outside on these sorts of emotionally charged days helps me feel close to Arijit, and it reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to enjoy such things. I know he’s with me wherever I go, so sometimes I like to take him to see the sights. Plus, he always hated it when people made a fuss over his birthday, so running away for the day seemed true to that spirit.
Please, help Poop Strong go out with a bang and donate to the FUNd if you’ve haven’t already. Consider it a belated birthday gift to Arijit. It’s about the only birthday fuss he’d be happy with. (Also, many thanks to the friend who pointed out the “go out with a bang”/explosive poop joke I totally missed. This is why Arijit loved his friends so much.)
How to Donate
- Go to https://www.uahealth.com/ways-to-give/donations
- Select “Cancer Center Patient Assistance Fund” as the Program Destination
- Note that the donation is for the Poop Strong FUNd in the Other/Special Instructions box
You can also mail a check (made payable to the UA Cancer Center Patient Assistance Fund) to the following address (make sure to indicate that the donation is for the Poop Strong FUNd in the memo line):
Patient Assistance Fund
c/o Kristin Uribe
University of Arizona Cancer Center — North Campus
3838 N. Campbell Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85719