Another sick person with sad story asking for handouts, you've seen this a million times.
Yes, I am sick. And I'm also asking for money.
But my story is far from sad.
My condition has influenced my life in so many positive ways that I have no right to complain. I wouldn't be who I am today had I not pushed through pain and emerged stronger on the other side.
True strength is also knowing when to ask for help.
I'm hereasking for help in funding stem cell therapy to alleviate my rheumatoid arthritis.
Even if you can't donate, I hope my story inspires you to overcome whatever obstacle stands between you and that one thing you most desire, and that you gain a sense of urgency to pursue it no matter what.
This is my story.... AN IMPORTANT CHILDHOOD LESSON
As a kid, I had a sneaking suspicion that time was the most valuable thing in the world.
I couldn't explain it, I just felt it.
In my small town of Wayne, Nebraska I'd thumb through my dad's National Geographic magazines taking the warnings of melting ice caps and sinking islands as personal deadlines.
I promised myself I'd travel to exotic places the way some kids vow to become astronauts or firemen. In my kid brain, I felt a real urgency to visit these places before they disappeared. Time was ticking.
This 'feeling' would later become the most important lesson of my adult life.... SLEEPLESS NIGHTS AND MY SUDDEN DIAGNOSIS
During my high school senior year and with college football scholarship offers on the table, I started waking up at night with completely numb hands.
Five or six times per night, I'd stretch my wrists back until a tingly sensation crept back into my fingers. The doctor said my weightlifting routine had constricted blood flow to my hands (damn you, biceps!).
Diagnosis? Carpel tunnel.
With absolute faith in modern medicine, I let them strap me to an operating table and cut new, wider passageways into both wrists. I spent the summer between high school and college in removable casts.
But the numbness continued.
"Uh, yeah, I guess you had rheumatoid arthritis," said the same doctor who scalpeled my tendons.
Per his instructions, I began taking anti-inflammation meds and didn't stop until only recently when their negative side effects---namely, mild depression---made me seek more sustainable alternatives.
For better or worse, 18 years of inflammation, pain, self-reflection, and, at times, despair, have made me the person I am today.
I repeat: this is not a sad story, at least not yet.... DISEASE DOESN'T DEFINE ME
Refusing to let arthritis control me, I've purposefully lived as if I was healthy.
I became an Eagle Scout, graduated from university (with student loans), traveled the world (self-funded), and have supported myself financially via online businesses (self-started).
And you know what?
All the long hours at crappy jobs to save money, all the uncertainty and stress of being my own boss...all that struggle was worth it for the views alone.... I've visited 138 countries and helped 1,000s also see the world, first while working as a recruiter and program director for a study abroad company then later as a consultant with my own travel businesses.
I'm grateful and don't take my privilege for granted.
Few people knew that I fight with my body daily, that I've been waging a physical and mental battle for more than half my life now.
I've preferred to struggle in private because I wanted people to judge me for who I was and how I treated others, not based on some disease I never asked for.... ASKING FOR HELP AND WHY GOFUNDME
Yet, no man is an island.
At age 35, my joints have deteriorated to the point that I can't complete basic functions like doing push-ups, opening jars, making a fist, or raising my arms above my head without pain shooting through my shoulders. I can't run anymore, and most mornings I shuffle to the shower with a limp.
Though I've dealt with chronic pain since I was a teenager, now my hips, knees, and feet are starting to mimic the symptoms of my shoulders and hands. As my doctor might say, "That's bad, very bad." The simple act of typing---necessary to run my online businesses and contribute to modern society in general---has become more difficult due to decreasing mobility in my wrists and fingers.
Since being diagnosed I've tried to stay optimistic about the future, but it's become obvious that my condition is worsening at an accelerated rate. Little by little I'm becoming one of the achy, slow-moving patients I've seen so many times in rheumatologist waiting rooms.
Without drastic change my body is on a path to disability.
That's no exaggeration, just the hard truth.
Thankfully, there is hope in stem cell therapy.... STEM CELL THERAPY, A BRIGHTER FUTURE
"I'm very comfortable with the safety profile of it, but I have to tell you it's super expensive, it will likely not be reimbursed by insurance, and it may not work..." - Dr. Roberta Shapiro during her TedTalk presentation.
Stem cell therapy is controversial in the medical field. Any opinion on the subject, both good and bad, can be validated with a quick Google search.
With that said, the supporting clinical studies and testimonials of actual stem cell therapy patients are nothing short of amazing.
Am I in a mindset where I want to believe this therapy can improve my condition? Yes.
Am I so naive as to believe all marketing without doing my own due diligence? No.
After months of research, I believe stem cell therapy has potential to heal my rheumatoid arthritis because it changes the root cause of inflammation at a cellular level (as opposed to other meds that don’t stop the progression of the disease).
Stem cell therapy might free me from a life-long dependency on meds with harmful side effects.
The upsides of regaining my health and positive outlook far outweigh any downsides.
Plus, they'll inject me with the juice while taking in views like this.... HOW WILL DONATIONS BE SPENT?
Yes, that same tiny tropical country with the famous canal and iconic hats (long story short: this type of treatment is not available in the United States).
Here is the price quote I received from the clinic: Once the funding goal is met and treatment begins, I'll post screenshot proof of paid bills as well as real-timephotos of my therapy in Panama City.
NOTE: Donations will NOT be used for airfare to and from clinics. I'll use my own airline miles and hotel points for all travel-related expenses. CHILDHOOD LESSON REVISITED
Remember those National Geographic magazines I read as a kid?
They changed me forever.
They instilled in me the idea that life is bigger and more mysterious than our immediate surroundings, that we need to pursue what we want with urgency because tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Kid Me: "Time is the most valuable thing in the world."
Adult Me: "True, true, but it’s the QUALITY of that time that matters most."
I was right to travel early and often, far and wide because there never was and isn’t now any guarantee that my body will be able to move so freely in the years ahead.
All the things I love---family, friends, travel---will become more difficult to enjoy if my rheumatoid arthritis continues to progress unchecked.
Stem cell therapy is an opportunity to reclaim my life, and that makes me very, very excited for the future.
I hope you'll consider buying a raffle for a very good shot at winning a luxury weekend while making my future brighter and more enjoyable in every way imaginable. PLEASE, PLEASE share this raffle on social media and with friends and family! I'm excited to help the winner book their luxury weekend!
I truly appreciate the support and generosity, -Trevor, the guy with funny hands
Note: availability varies; above rates from three-night stay from 10/5/18 - 10/8/18
Flights included with US Hilton stay: If winner chooses a Hilton in Continental US, then Economy roundtrip flights for 2 passengers from any airport within Continental US are included. Flights must be redeemed during same weekend stay. Flights not included if Hilton located outside US.