Tag Archives: fundraising

Fattening the Frog

Jessica’s secure fundraising site is accessible here.

While coming to terms with my diagnosis, I realized there are experiences, moments – even things – that I want for myself. And these are consistent, no matter if my timeline is to be measured in one year or ten.

I felt a lot of pressure to track these things via a “bucket list.” But my imagination kept teasing me with this very literal vision of a stainless steel bucket far too cold and anonymous to contain hopes, dreams, and otherwise fun things.

I needed something that was more… Jessica. It had to have an animal-association, be a bit humorous, and have a touch of whimsy amidst such a serious topic. And thus, The Frog List was born! It contains all of the things I want to do before I CROAK!

It was a soft launch: I simply added a page to my existing blog. But soon two very cool supporters assembled a fundraiser page which would draw attention to my list and the resources needed to make it come true.

The fundraising is managed and secured via YouCaring.com. It is a fee-free service which connects people like me and the folks who have the means to help, no matter how small or large the donation.

Knowing my needs and wanting to be as practical as possible, we took a guess at time and donation goals. I extend the time deadline from month-to-month, and I’m not quite halfway to my $10,000 goal. I feel it is a lofty, but not unobtainable goal, given the experiences of other YouCaring users in my situation.

Some donations are monetary. Others are donations of actual experiences or items on the list. Either way, it’s important to me that I keep the site updated so the generous donors (and potential ones too!) know exactly how The Frog List has made my life easier and more enjoyable.

To date, the following items and experiences have been donated: a special lightweight wheelchair, NASCAR race tickets (and Hot Passes), Cirque du Soleil tickets (and meet and greet), and George Strait concert tickets (in progress!).

I would like to give an idea of where the cash donations have been spent too. Some of the larger expenses have been: flights/hotel/car rental for the NASCAR race; gas for trips to see my mom in WV; and making sure everyone who wants money at least gets a minimum payment. My Rite Aid prescription bill alone rivals most car payments!

While visiting friends and family for Thanksgiving, a friend gave me some really good advice. “Don’t be shy to extend the date or the fundraising goal as things change.” Her youngest daughter was born with some huge medical hurdles, but luckily she’s a thriving happy little girl today. 

My friend’s words of wisdom revisit me often these days. We are nearing completion of the most critical item on my Frog List: Move my mom closer to me. We found the new farm, and the move is about two weeks away! We must sell the existing property ASAP, but having my mom close to me will outweigh the stress of an extra mortgage.

I’m so excited it’s finally happening. I have lived through two years and two months of bad news, treatments, and hospitalization with her too far away and me too unwell to make the frequent trips I once did.

Through all the planning, I just realized that I’m going to need different accommodations at the new farm than I have had in WV (the existing farm).

Most waking hours, in order to be physically comfortable, I need to lie down or at least recline. (In fact, I often measure how well I’m doing by how many hours I was able to spend out of bed on a given day.) At home, I have a daybed in my living room. I replaced my loveseat with it about six months after my original diagnosis.
Having a bed downstairs also allows me to avoid my arch enemy, stairs, on most occasions.

At the farm in WV, I have been spending more and more of each visit isolated in the guest bedroom because there is no place for me to lie/recline comfortably in the living room.

Therefore, I want to buy a sectional sofa (maybe with a recliner) for the new farm. I want to have a place I can be comfortable and interact with everyone during waking hours. 

I definitely think this warrants an addition to the Frog List. I wouldn’t spend money on anything fancy; it seems that a basic sectional starts around $1000. (It just has to be very comfy!)

This started me thinking: How do I decide what I should add to the Frog List? I came up with two criterion: 1) Will it make my daily life easier or more comfortable? 2) Am I the primary benefactor? I am happiest when the ones I love are, too; but when asking for such generosity it’s important I remain focused on the goal at hand. (By the way, asking for help is very hard.)

Right now that’s the only ad hoc (and somewhat immediate) item I want to add. Yes, I can use all the help I can get with mountains of medical and living expenses; and I’ll be reaching out to a few key folks when it’s time to say “I do.”

But I hope to order my “comfy place” before the end of February. Thank you for everything you’ve done to date, and in the future, to help me fatten the frog!

Jessica’s secure fundraising site is accessible here: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/jessica-s-frog-list/84760



For ten days I’ve been sliding down the sheer face of a cliff, desperately grabbing for something to slow my plummet. It’s been the most painful and unsettling time I’ve experienced since my diagnosis.

Every problem feels magnified. There are no small issues. Nearly every decision is life-changing or life-threatening. I’m trying to pick through them, teasing out just one at a time so I can try to deal with something. So I can try to unravel a mess of a life.

This week I began to understand one of my many current flaws: I equate people wanting to help me with people’s want for me to live.

When I was first diagnosed, my friends had a wonderfully successful fundraiser that really helped me get through that first year and a half with an income cut in half and boatloads of new bills. Seth and I escalated our plan to combine our homes and households. I cut my expenses and changed my lifestyle to better accommodate my new income. But I still have important responsibilities, and after putting it off as long as possible, I had to bite the bullet and ask for help again.

The decision to go public seemed logical. My blog has a small but respectable audience, and I thought maybe just $10 or $15 from a lot of friendly strangers wouldn’t have a huge impact on our economy, but it would make a very significant one on me. Two new and very fun online friends helped me launch my YouCaring website at the beginning of September. We planned it using my signature Frog List: Things To Do Before I Croak.

Unfortunately, there are many people in need and only so much help to go around. There would never be a fair way to say one person is more deserving than another. (I wouldn’t anyway – it would be rude!) But I can tell you that a lot of people have a better story than I do.

I’m well-educated, middle-class, and I’ve never saved anyone from a burning building. I’ve always tried to do the right thing and live my life focused on love first. But those things don’t make me stand out. They certainly don’t make me “better” or more deserving than anyone else.

The most unique thing about me is that I could be you. Average health, with friends, a family, and a bright future, yet dying very suddenly of lung cancer. My true WANT is to be worthy of your time, interest, and compassion; not your $20.

But desperation brought me to a point where I just thought if people cared enough, everything would be okay. That somehow there would be enough strangers who cared and had money to make the end of my life as easy, comfortable, and happy as possible. I now see how illogical this is, and quite frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed for getting so carried away. Donations do not equal caring. Nor do they equal whether or not people have given up on me living.

Part of me needs to accept that I’m not going to get the help I need. I think it’s so difficult because I’ve always been able to work hard to get what I needed to take care of my family and myself. But those rules no longer apply – and that screws with one of my basic value systems. I keep coming back to “I must still have something to offer someone…”

I’m going to continue to focus on the things that bring me that intrinsic happiness. Writing for my blog and hopefully other publications too. Spending time with my loved ones. Neverending property searches to get my mom closer to me. And maybe it’s time to think about wedding details too. My Frog List will continue to drive the fundraiser website, and I will have new updates posted soon! If someone chooses to contribute, I promise the money will be used for something that will bring me peace and joy.

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