In this guest blog post, Stephen Stickler describes the healing touch of receiving online support. From his perspective as a Beneficiary on GiveForward, Stephen addresses his brave decision to allow two friends to raise money on his behalf. He also reflects on how his fundraiser triggered greater realizations about humanity and his sense of self.
My friends Suzanne and Dante set up a donation fund for me on the donation site Giveforward.com when I first got diagnosed. I was freaking out about how I was going to pay for everything, seeing as I was unable to work any longer. The page was up and running in no time, and the response was unbelievable to me. Friends spread the URL around on Facebook and in emails, and shortly, the donations came pouring in, at the rate of $1,000 a day for at least a couple of weeks. Near the end of the donation period, people reposted the link and another late wave of funds came in. Our goal was $35,000, and we raised $23,000 of that, a very useful and significant amount.
My financial worries have abated, but almost more importantly, the donations have had a profound effect on me in other ways. I was unprepared for the response the page received. The diagnosis was new at the time, and I hadn’t fully decided how public I wanted to be about it. It required me to surrender my preferred sense of privacy, to leave my comfort zone. It was a self-admission that I needed the help of others, a situation that I had assiduously avoided in life until then. I had to lower the drawbridge, and the result is that I have experienced healing of areas in my psyche that I was unaware needed healing. To open myself to receive was hard for me, because it brought up the questions of worthiness and self-love (or lack thereof). I had to admit to myself that I was someone deserving of the love of others. And there was so much of it, from long-lost friends, unexpected samaritans, & complete strangers. My view of humanity was repaired. I had been focusing on the negative aspects of people without being aware of it, and less able to see the positive sides. The kindness and generosity shown by a couple of hundred folks towards me obliterated my limited view of others. I became able to see the inherent goodness in people.
It is healing to those who give as well. We have the inherent need to express love, and Giveforward is a perfect forum in which to do so. I have since become much more conscious of opportunities to share and give, and feel compelled to do so where I can. My blog is just one small way for me to give back and to pay the kindness forward. This is just one example of the other kinds of healing that I have been experiencing. Giveforward.com and other sites of the sort are doing a valuable service, not just for those in financial and medical need, but for the circles of family and friends that surround them. The Internet has made it easier for us to express our finer selves, to serve, to share and love, and not just to post pictures of food and cute animals. To support and create community around each other, and to connect. So many friends from my past have come forward to express their support and love for me, and that has been a major part of my healing process, to reintegrate into community and society, to feel a part of something bigger.
My doctor’s outlook is positive, based on my progress so far, but I also know that receiving so much love and kindness from others has been a big part of my improvement. If you know of someone in a similar situation of needing help, try crowdsourcing. It may help in ways that you haven’t yet imagined.
Stephen is an accomplished photographer and blogger from Los Angeles. You can visit his visual art here: http://www.stephenstickler.com/ and his written talent here: http://stephen-han.tumblr.com/. Stephen is focused on finding his cure through both the healing of mind and body.