Help Out a Fellow Agitatortot

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Longtime reader, spawner of a new generation of Agitator fans, and regular commenter Bronwyn Hartung writes:

The short: I’ve set up a collection for donations to help my mom and dad pay for the stem cell transplant she’ll be going through next month.

The long: My parents moved in with me and my husband shortly before my first son, Samuel, was born in 2007. They have since been the primary caregivers of my children while I and my husband work. Dixon joined us in October of 2008. In December of 2008, mom was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, a very aggressive form of the disease. She was admitted to the hospital on December 11 for chemotherapy, and didn’t come home until mid-January of 2009. Since then, she’s gone through two additional rounds of chemotherapy, lost her hair and grown it back, suffered several bouts of shingles and colds and pneumonia because, although she is in remission (and has been for a year now), her system was so beaten down by the chemotherapy that she remains weakened. She is more than a shadow of her former self, but she is struggling nonetheless. She has been told that her cancer is all but guaranteed to relapse, and that her only chance is a preemptive strike via stem stem cell transplant.

Through the beauty that is the Bone Marrow Donor registry, a perfect match was found, and the donor is ready and willing to donate.

Here’s the problem. My parents have been unemployed for years now, and have private, individual insurance, which costs them approximately two arms, a leg and a few toes each year, and comes with a high deductible and upsettingly low maximum benefits. The cancer has eaten away at their savings and, with no income, they have no way to replenish.

This transplant is coming in the new year of course, which means mom has to start paying all over again, to the tune of at least $7000.

My own family is fighting a losing financial struggle, the details of which are dirty and not worth listing, but suffice to say that we cannot help. We can’t even afford outside childcare for my kids to give my dad a break from triple-caregiver duty.

Here enters my fundraising effort. I wouldn’t be doing a good job of it if I didn’t press into every nook and cranny of my network, and I consider TheAgitator to be a significant part of my online world.

The fund is completely separate from my personal accounts, and is not even linked to my mom’s accounts. PayPal insists on taking their cut, but I have pledged to make up the difference so that everyone’s donation is transferred, in full, to my mom. On the 15th of every month, I will transfer money from PayPal to an ING savings account, and will disburse funds to mom as her bills come in. She wants to provide a full accounting of where the donations go.

I ask if you would be willing to post my donation button on your blog, or share it via e-mail. We both know the power of the internet, and how even the smallest donations can add up to something substantial in a very short time, once that power is tapped.

(Note: The button above doesn’t seem to be working for some people. You can send directly to:

This isn’t something I’ll be making a habit of, here. With 15-20K readers, we could be doing fundraisers every day. But Brownwyn has been a loyal reader for years, and I’m sure many of you are comment pals with her. She also sent me a separate email instead of posting this in the comments, which I appreciate. Use the button above if you’d like to help her out. I’ll be doing exactly that. If you have questions about how the account will operate, I’m sure she’d be happy to answer them in the comments. Please be civil.

Just for liability purposes, I should add here that I have no role the administration of the account whatsoever other than posting the message above, which I’m doing as a favor to a reader of whom I’ve become fond after exchanging email with her over the years.

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20 Responses to “Help Out a Fellow Agitatortot”

  1. #1 |  a reader | 

    For me, that link just takes me to paypal and doesn’t give any way to send money to this person.

  2. #2 |  Bronwyn | 

    I will happily answer any questions. On the 14th or 15th of every month, I will provide an accounting on my public blog, so anyone who wishes to may follow progress there. I won’t hassle the Agitatortots here :)

    This has been a humbling experience, witnessing the kindness of strangers. The cynic in me has learned a tough lesson!

    Part of my plan is to provide mom with pre-addressed, pre-stamped stationery so she can thank everyone. She is determined to do this, I just figure her chemo brain won’t be up to the task of managing address lists! I’m not telling her the amount of any donation, just who has given. If you wish to remain anonymous, let me know.

    Thank you, Radley, for sharing this. It was a big favor to ask, and I deeply appreciate your help.

  3. #3 |  pegr | 

    First, I wish the best of luck to Bronwyn and her mother.

    Second, this appeal in this forum is inappropriate. Now Radley can do whatever he wants, it’s his blog. But if “This isn’t something I’ll be making a habit of, here.”, I have to ask, why now? We all have troubles.

    Third, just to show I’m not a total jerk, I’ll PayPal $13.27. The strange amount will be easy for Bronwyn to verify.

  4. #4 |  pegr | 

    Yup, the link is borked. No way to send money. Someone fix please?

  5. #5 |  pegr | 

    From Bronwyn’s blog:

  6. #6 |  SusanK | 

    I think it’s fabulous that Radley shared this on his blog. It’s pretty rare when he gives us sucky news that we can actually do something about.

  7. #7 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Second, this appeal in this forum is inappropriate. Now Radley can do whatever he wants, it’s his blog. But if “This isn’t something I’ll be making a habit of, here.”, I have to ask, why now? We all have troubles.

    1. Last time I checked this is Radley’s personal blog (as you yourself acknowledge). How can anything he chooses to post (with the exception of clearly illegal content or LOLcats–those damn things are NEVER funny) be inappropriate?

    2. I think Radley clearly explained why he’s making an exception now.

  8. #8 |  Bronwyn | 

    Clicky my name for the e-mail address for the fund. You can message me there with questions, or send paypal funds to that address.

    Thank you. SusanK’s right. This has been a year of feeling helpless. It’s emotionally exhausting. Like my taking on a second (freelance) job to help our finances, there is immense power in finding some way to regain a sense of control.

  9. #9 |  Leah | 

    Bronwyn! I wish you lived closer so I could babysit when necessary and our kids could foment a capitalist revolution together.

  10. #10 |  Eric | 

    I don’t know whats cooler, Riley posting this or the name agitatortot!

  11. #11 |  Bronwyn | 

    Oh, Leah, I wish it too! I daydream of a sort of Amazon paradise, where we mommies of a certain mindset can raise our Agitatorspawn… Weesonoids?? Junior Objectivists?

  12. #12 |  Sky | 

    “Second, this appeal in this forum is inappropriate.”

    My respect for Radley has just grown immensely!

  13. #13 |  Kristen | 

    Bronwyn, I very much wish I could help you. I will look at my finances next month and see if I have something to spare. My mom is going through chemo right now (bladder cancer), and luckily my parents are able to absorb the cost. I really feel for you, and I know how important parents are. Good luck to you and your mom, and I’ll be thinking good thoughts for a healthy immune system and no relapses!

  14. #14 |  Matt | 

    Unfortunately, your loyal reader is not alone. There are all too many Americans who find themselves in this situation, and it’s only going to get worse as health care costs continue to rise. Go ahead and call me a heretic, but this is why we need healthcare reform. The free market is a wonderful thing, but it isn’t always the best solution to every problem.

  15. #15 |  Bronwyn | 

    Kristen, I was going to send a note to you, but you didn’t post an email addy.

    Bladder cancer is a frightening diagnosis. I’ll be thinking of your family, too.

  16. #16 |  Radley Balko | 

    Go ahead and call me a heretic, but this is why we need healthcare reform. The free market is a wonderful thing, but it isn’t always the best solution to every problem.

    There’s very little “free market” in America’s current health care system. Pricing is a pretty big integral part of a free market, and under the current system, consumers have no idea what the treatment they’re getting costs until after they get it. Many times, providers don’t even know what they charge.

  17. #17 |  Bronwyn | 

    consumers have no idea what the treatment they’re getting costs until after they get it

    Yep. I had a 10-day hospital stay and didn’t have any hint of the cost until the $30k bill showed up in my mailbox weeks later.

    Mom’s $130k+ bill for her first 5-week hospital stay didn’t show up until after she came home.

    If there was a free market, mom could’ve kept her Texas plan when they moved here to KY – the Texas plan was much better than what she can get here.

  18. #18 |  Bronwyn | 

    That $130k bill, by the way, was just for the hospital. Daily visitations from the infectious disease doc and the behavioral oncologists (the first was necessary, the second were uninvited and unwelcome) cost thousands more.

    You get care you don’t even ask for.

  19. #19 |  Bee | 

    Yep, Bronwyn is indeed a “commenting pal”. And I agree with SusanK – it’s good to be able to do something immediate and concrete to help a fellow ‘tot.

  20. #20 |  Bronwyn | 

    Thank you, everyone! Thank you!