TeamEd: 2 Tumors 2 Many

For: Ed Siemienkowicz
Chicago, IL
Organizer: Ed Siemienkowicz
of $25,000 goal.
Raised by 171 donors
49% Complete
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The Story

The hardest thing for many of us to do is ask for help, but I'm humbly asking you to help me through this recovery period. As a contractor, I have some savings, but no real safety net. I wish it was otherwise, because God knows I've been working as hard as I could. I don't have a lavish life (ask me about my KonMari purge last year), but I'm looking to take care of my expenses while I recover. It's abdominal surgery, and I don't know how long it will be until I can work again. Anything you care to give I will be grateful for, and will honor by getting back to my life's purpose: telling stories, making art, and helping people to enjoy life a little more.

Sincere thanks,


Fundraiser Updates

Posted on June 22, 2017

Posted on June 22, 2017

Hi everyone! We’ve got a few updates for the TeamEd community.
Ed’s first chemo appointment was this morning. If all went as planned, he should be home soon. As he mentioned, this is a different cocktail than last time, so it’s still uncertain what kind of side effects he will be facing. Please send some extra good thoughts his way over the next few days and weeks as the treatment settles in.

Also, there are a few different ways you can take action to support Ed and Vanessa:

-The fundraiser has been updated to account for growing costs. Ed is unable to work, and while most of his medical treatment is covered, there are still expenses like rent, basic needs, his highly nutritious plant-based diet, and some alternative treatments that are supplementing his chemo. Thank you for those who have contributed and shared the fundraiser! We hope this support will continue to grow!

-After some feedback about how wonky the Lotsa Helping Hands site is, TeamEd decided to revamp things, so Lotsa Helping Hands is no longer being used. If you live in Chicago and are interested in help out with meals, cleaning, driving, or other tasks, please complete the Volunteer Survey. If you previously signed up on Lotsa Helping Hands, you will need to sign up again through this survey. You will be contacted by a volunteer coordinator as needs arise. We think this will be more efficient, create less work for Ed and Vanessa, and be easier for anyone who wants to help out.

-If you’d like to give a more specific gift, below are the list of some gift cards that can help Ed and Vanessa in a pinch to get rides, have groceries delivered, help out with other needs. The best email address for each gift card is listed so it can be sent electronically.

Lyft                             [email protected]
Instacart                     [email protected]       [email protected]
Massage (in home preferable) [email protected]

We also thought that these two could use a date night now and again to regroup from everything they are juggling. The dietary restrictions mean that not all restaurants are options, but they specifically said that gift cards to Miku Sushi in Lincoln Square and Cocoro downtown would be welcome. These may need to be sent to their home, so please email [email protected] you need their address and it will be sent to you.

Please watch for updates or join the TeamEd group on Facebook to find out about the latest news and needs! Thanks for all your support!

Posted on June 20, 2017

Posted on June 20, 2017

What You Can Do to Help?

Dear readers! We’re moving fast on all this business, and it was a busy week already. Tuesday morning Ed gets a chemo port re-installed (boo), Thursday he starts chemo - three hours for the first session. Meanwhile there all these tasks flying around that have been overwhelming him and Vanessa. There are three main ways in which you can help:

  1. TeamEd
    We’ve reorganized TeamEd, and now we have Captains: these officers have specific tasks to help with firsthand, or to delegate to volunteers. This is a much better solution than a calendar for rides, laundry or meals.

    To become a volunteer, please fill out this for below with some basic info, and how you think you can best contribute:

    Volunteer Form

(We’ll be moving away from Lotsa Helping Hands due to technical complications)

  1. Share the posts
    If you’re on social media, please share the posts around. We also recommend adding a little something personal, like how you know Ed, why you are compelled to share or get involved. This goes a lot further than a random link where you assume people know what you’re talking about.

  2. Sign Up & Stay Informed
    We know that not everyone likes Facebook, or even the internet. However this situation is moving too rapidly, and there’s so many moving parts that it’s impractical and stressful to attempt to call everyone on a phone list. If you are truly invested, please sign up for the Volunteer form and we’ll be posting updates on Facebook and YouCaring.

Join TeamEd, and let’s help him get through this terrible battle together! Thanks for reading, and we hope you get involved.

Posted on June 19, 2017

Posted on June 19, 2017

Ed Talks About Cancer pt.1

See the video here:

Two weeks ago, over the course of a few days, I went from feeling well-rested and more energetic to being huddled in a ball in my bed, under my down comforter, with violent shakes, chills, and a fever. The next day I was tired and “ill,” but most importantly I had turned a ghastly yellow. The jaundice came on fast, and off to the Cancer Center we went on Friday the second.

We assumed we’d have to go to the ER that night, but we’d hoped to catch one of my doctors before they left. We spoke with my surgeon before he left the cancer center, and let him know that some research we did into the drugs I was taking (my pills for pain, and an anti-depressant my ocno recommended), and found a few suspiciously coincidental symptoms. He focused on the cancer-related medical knowledge he was used to, and we went along with it. Cover our bases. The timeline added up, we hoped desperately that we were right.

He helped us check in to the ER, and I ended up staying in the hospital for six days. First, they had to get my jaundice under control. Next, they had to figure out what caused it. After four scans and a biopsy, it was clear.

More. Cancer.

When I heard this, I was rocked. I literally saw my life flash before my eyes. First I laughed in my oncologist’s face. Then I had a total body cry. I’ve never asked “why me?” but I did ask “are you EFFING kidding me?” All this surgery, all this recovery, all this effort, my missing organs, the last two months of uphill struggle… What was the point?

I shared a big cry with Vanessa and my best friend, Laura, who were in the room at the time. We sat and looked at each other and all had the same thought - Ed’s going to die. They gave me some time alone, and I sat with this for a while. When they returned I’d cried it out, and then we got busy planning.

Last Thursday I was released, considerably less yellow than even the night before. It felt good to not only be out of the hospital, but to smell fresh air, see non-medical-worker humans, and to EAT REAL FOOD. Because of my restrictions, food in the room wasn’t great at all, and I, in fact lost MORE weight. Once I got home, I sent my brother (who stayed with me that day) to the store for fresh, organic fruits and veggies. I couldn’t wait to cook and eat real food again!

So I’m out, and despite a setback this week due to overextending myself with my family last Friday, my energy is back on the upswing. This is important, because I have a lot of work to do.

The next step is to put me back on chemo, which I start next week. I’m not crazy about it, especially since it will be a 2-chemical cocktail this time, as opposed to one like the first time. This means I’ll likely have more severe side effects, too. The survival numbers for stage four pancreatic cancer are not good. Remember that I’m also a double-rare case, having already been down this road. The work I have to do isn’t just sit and take what’s given to me. I will fight the whole way, and I’ll tell you all about what that means.

So, what can you do? Hell yes, my supporters out there are strong, and they care about me. But maybe they aren’t sure exactly how to help. This week I’ll be talking more about EXACTLY what you can do to help Vanessa and I get through this. Please remember that while she is my girlfriend, we do live together, and she is an impressive person, she has a life and a career to keep on track, too. She’s not my nurse nor especially not my mom. We’re a team, and we need you.

We’re reorganizing the volunteer side of this debacle, and are considering a new fundraiser. Please stay tuned to the Team Ed news source of your choice so you don’t miss a thing: YouCaring, LotsaHelpingHands, or TeamEd on Facebook. If you want to check in, or just send well-wishes, please use YouCaring or TeamEd on Facebook. I appreciate and accept all the positivity coming my way, but please try not to text me or Vanessa for a personalized update. There’s so much going on, and I only have so much energy to use in a day, that all the texting becomes stressful. Thanks for understanding.

I’m about to really join the fight of my life, and I need you to help me do it. Chances? Sure they’re slim. Hope? I got hope through the roof, and my posse is strong. Thanks for watching, feel free to leave a comment.

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