Chemda is co-host of the pioneering, award-winning comedy podcast Keith and The Girl, co-author of What Do We Do Now?: Keith And The Girl’s Smart Answers To Your Stupid Relationship Questions and The Ultimate Podcasting Guide, she’s a singer, a producer, a life-coach, and a beacon of the arts community here in New York City.
Chemda has given back for over a decade by creating a space for new comedic and intellectual voices to thrive on Keith and The Girl and What’s My Name?. No matter how strange, how unconventional, how polarizing, or offbeat, Chemda has always responded with an empathetic ear and her magnetic sense of humor.
She is a loving wife, a loyal friend, and one hell of an entrepreneur — but now she needs our help.
It all started with a bad cough.
On August 17, 2016, Chemda called her doctor, barely able to breathe or get a word out. After urging her to go to the emergency room, doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital gave her a chest x-ray. A large mass about the size of a grapefruit was discovered between her heart and lungs. This was only the tip of the iceberg.
The tests began, and after an invasive biopsy, the mass appeared to be much bigger than initially thought.
Chemda was diagnosed with thymoma, a rare one in a million, tumor that affects the thymus gland. The thymus, located in front and above the heart, is a small organ, pivotal to the body’s immune system, that typically dissolves into fat tissue after puberty. In Chemda’s case, her thymus had overgrown to the size of a football. It had become a tumor. Pushing upon her right lung, causing it to become compressed, the tumor significantly reduced Chemda’s breathing capacity. She was now working with just one good lung.
While results of the biopsy were inconclusive in determining the tumor’s malignancy, MRI results on September 9th revealed promising news. Chemda had stage II thymoma, but the tumor was not attached to her heart and lung. She could forego chemotherapy, but a highly invasive, life-changing surgery was necessary to save her life, and a portion of her lung would have to be sacrificed.
On September 22, less than two-weeks before her scheduled surgery, Chemda received more heartbreaking news. Blood tests showed signs of Myasthenia Gravis (MG), days later neurological tests confirmed the suspected diagnosis.
MG is an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that affects voluntary muscles. Symptoms vary in each individual but include, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, chronic muscle fatigue, difficulty breathing, and other muscular-related issues. The condition will have to be regularly monitored for the rest of her life.
On October 3rd, the surgery proved to be a success. The tumor, weighing approximately 4.5 pounds, was surgically removed and 99 percent of her right lung remains in tact.
However, Chemda is nowhere near out of the woods yet. Doctors were forced to remove a nerve attached to her diaphragm, this may require future corrective surgeries. If her lung has trouble re-inflating, she may require future corrective surgeries. What we do know is that Chemda will indefinitely need radiation to remove any traces of the tumor to prevent regrowth.
She will require at least 6-8 weeks to recover from this surgery alone. Managing thymoma will have life-long health and financial implications.
This is why we need YOU.
The expenses Chemda and her wonderful husband, Hennessy are asking for help with only cover what we already know. There is still so much of which we cannot anticipate. Chemda is self-employed and cannot earn money if she cannot work. She requires round the clock care from Hennessy, who must now take time off of work, and sacrifice his half of the income, to be at her side.
This is where your generous donation will go:
- Medical bills
- Medications and post-surgical prescriptions
- Monthly expenses (rent, utilities, groceries)
- Mental health counseling
- Doctors appointments
- The cost of the hospital stay
- Necessary medical equipment
- Miscellaneous and unexpected associated costs (cabs to and from the hospital, eating out, etc.)
Chemda is a survivor, she is strong, resilient, and has a wicked sense of humor about her diagnosis and condition. But she cannot overcome this alone. It will take a village, a community, and yes, some fundraising to get through this.
We all love Chemda dearly and must rally around her during this difficult time. The smallest donation truly adds up, so give what you can. She is too modest to ask, so we are doing it for her!
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