A lot has been happening and it’s time to compile the updates in one place.
Our Latest GoFundMe Update
Dear friends and family and well wishers,
We’ve made it to Nepal! Hip Hip Hooray!
We apologize for the long gap between updates, we’ve just been too overwhelmed by the non-stop whirlwind surrounding us since leaving America. Now that things are settling down, we wanted to check back in with you 😉
I’m gonna start this update with one statement:
Parenting is hard.
Oh boy, is it ever. And we’ve been greatly reminded of this over the last month, especially since packing up our life and getting on a plane (actually several planes) to Nepal.
Parenting requires more presence than any other activity I’ve ever encountered. The more chaotic the world of the parent, the more difficult it is to show up and be present. That’s why we responded to our pregnancy by reorganizing our lives to one which supported our ability to be present.
Since learning about Amala’s cancer diagnosis, the winds of expedient change swept into our lives and both our outer and inner world’s got stirred up. Whether it was a 13 hour plane ride or the jetlag it gifted us after our 35 hour trip to the other side of the planet, or the fear and worry about what will happen to Amala, or getting sick days before the flight during crunch time and not getting over it till a few days after landing, or any of the other multitudes of turbulence billowing through our world, we have been challenged to find our balance, to stay loving with each other, and to keep showing up despite feeling down.
While we’ve all snapped at some point in the last few weeks, we’ve also all loved each other through it. Now the winds are calming, we’re getting grounded into Nepal, and our ability to show up for Amala continues to grow.
The time we have had with Amala has been very beneficial so far.
Upon arriving on the first night, we went straight to her place and had a late night family dinner. Gem got to meet his uncles and his grandma for the first time in person, and it was beautiful to see how comfortable he was with them right away compared to meeting a stranger. He’s a very open boy, but still has caution with strangers. Upon meeting his Tibetan family, it looked like he could feel that they were family, and he got close with them quickly. He’s now enjoying the chance to spend time with them daily, and liking having so many uncles around to play with.
He’s also building a fun relationship with his grandmother, who loves to dote on him and be goofy with him. The joyful moments they have together are certainly good medicine for Amala’s soul, and whether he knows it or not, Gem is doing his role as part of the healing team.
Penpa has begun working with Amala on our treatment plan, starting with massage, yoga, meditation, and supporting her dharma practice. We’ve also been able to start Amala on a powerful cannabis medicine designed to destroy cancer cells, and she is responding well to it so far. We still have quite a few more tricks yet to be pulled out of our healing bag, but we’re adding things into her life slowly, one at a time. At this point these initial treatments are helping her and her health has not deteriorated.
We have been connected with a great local Tibetan clinic which offers services for cancer patients, and are also connected with a Tibetan doctor specializing in cancer and two western cancer doctors at two different hospitals. So we’re getting advice and information from a diverse group and have access to their help as needed. Our current focus is on the Tibetan medicine, cannabis medicine, and lifestyle changes, and they appear to be helpful so far. Once we’ve had some time for these treatments to do their job, we’ll be setting another appointment for tests to see if the cancer is progressing, pausing, or remitting.
Thank you all for the donations which have made this trip possible! We can’t thank you enough, we wouldn’t be here in such a strong position to help if it wasn’t for your support. Knowing that we had a budget for the challenges which came up gave us some security and stability to move from. The help you give us empowers us to help Amala, and we’re so grateful to have you in our life so that this opportunity would be possible! <3
We continue to get offers of help, donations of time and resources other than money, and we’re so grateful for all the creative ways people are supporting us. The most recent offer has come from a skilled healer friend of ours who is donating a long distance energy based cancer treatment. While this type of treatment is dismissed by western doctors, scientists have been testing our friend Ilan in labs and verifying his results in healing a wide range of ailments. I put together a blog about his work which you can check out here if you’re interested (http://innovativeyogis.com/initial-evidence-of-energy-healing/). We deeply appreciate all the healers in our life who have offered to share their gifts with Amala, we feel truly blessed to be in service together!
You might have missed that we posted some pictures and videos on Instagram since leaving America (which was easier to get done than sit down to write a proper update). I’ve added a few of those here to this update, but you can see all of them by checking out the full posts here:
Instagram Post 1:
Instagram Post 2:
While we’ve come far already, truly this journey has just begun. Thank you for being with us on this ride, and we promise to keep you in the loop as we enter the next chapter.
So much love, gratitude, and blessings to you all!
-Brenpa & Gem
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The Rest of the GoFundMe Updates
Since our first blog post we’ve made a few more updates on the campaign but didn’t post them here. If you missed them and wanna read through the past a bit, keep scrolling down 😉
Well I gotta say, today was a good day 😉
We celebrated Gem’s first birthday today and also blew past our goal with a very generous final donation from my Dad! Hip hip hooray!
A year ago today we were at the end of 3 days of labor, finally in the tub at the birthing center, and then Dorje Gem Khandro arrived into our arms. Today we have tickets in hand to fly to Nepal, and funds to cover the medical expenses when we get there, thanks to the combined generosity of all the loving people in our life! October 16th truly is an auspicious day for us <3
During the pregnancy we made a conscious choice to stay put and focus on clearing up all the tangled energies that were holding us back from the harmonious relationship we knew was possible. Knowing that we were about to be the primary stimuli imprinting on our new baby’s brain, we wanted to clear out all the gunk which he would see and imbibe from us, even if we didn’t know we were showing it.
Plus we knew parenting would be hard work, after watching my brother and several friends have kids enter their lives, so we decided to set ourselves up in an environment which supported mindful parenting, which meant both cleaning up ourselves and clearing out unnecessary complexities in our life. That included a decision to stop travelling.
Yet here we are, about to embark upon a 30 hour journey of airports and airplanes, to the other side of the planet, to the city of Kathmandu. Routine be damned, jet lag be welcomed, time to fly with the flow of the universe, or get beat down trying to resist it.
It’s a bit scary to be leaving everything behind to go on an uncertain journey instead of continuing to build the good thing we have going right here and now. But all the best things in my life were scary jumps into uncertain territory – asking Penpa to marry me, realizing Gem was in the belly and it was time to step up and be a father, or leaving Boulder to go live in India for 5 months as an 18 year old… So I trust that if we show up fully to what’s asked of us, this leap will take us to a more beautiful timeline yet again. It’s time to be of service to our family, like our family has been to us.
A big special thanks to you dad, not only for your generous donation but also for helping us in any way you could, from strategizing travel plans and finding tickets, to letting us use your house as a storage unit, and so much more. We’re so lucky to have you as our dad and Gem’s grandpa!
We love you all and thank you for funding this important journey to introduce Gem to Amala, to support her in these trying times, and to ensure that she’s surrounded by love as she faces cancer. You’ll hear more from us as the trip commences, cause we’re all on this journey together now!
We broke $10,000 thanks to all of your generosity and support! Amazing! Final stretch now, we can do it 🙂
I want to give a special thank you to the people who have gone above and beyond to help:
First off, thank you Mom for putting so much time into helping us fund raise, reaching out to all of your friends and encouraging them to contribute! I think almost half of what’s come in is thanks to your efforts, and we’re deeply grateful <3
Also another special thanks to Nicole for bringing your friends into the cause, even encouraging them to send donations meant for you to us instead. We’re ever grateful for your example of how to be generous and take care of others <3
Then there’s a few of you who contributed in ways that didn’t include money given to the GoFundMe, but are extremely valuable.
Thank you Christina for offering to not only watch over our home while it’s gone, but also offering your expertise in property management to set it up as an Airbnb. This means the bills that need to be paid here in CO can be covered while we’re travelling, which gives us a lot of breathing room to figure out a new income in Nepal! Thank you so much for showing up with such a helpful gift in this time of need <3
Also thank you to Colette, our medicine woman, for coming over to our home multiple times with different alternative medicines which we can use to heal Amala. From special concoctions you brewed in your own home with love and blessings, to giving us medicine you’d hunted down for yourself, we’re now well geared up to go take care of Amala thanks to your generosity! We love having a committed shaman like you in our life, it’s a real blessing <3
And another big thank you to everyone who has contributed in any way, big or small, monetarily or with prayers, or anything else – this trip is now a reality thanks to you, and our hearts are filled with gratitude!
Tickets have been purchased and we fly this Saturday! Still lots to do before we can go, so time to get back to work 😉 You’ll hear from us again soon!
Much love and blessings,
Wow, this has been a rollercoaster week, from the lows of fear and worry to the highs of feeling loved and supported by y’all. Thank you, thank you so so much! This outpouring of generosity convinces us that we need to keep giving what we can to whoever needs it, just like you have given to us.
It’s hard to ask for help. It’s embarrassing, it is risky because it means being vulnerable. It means admitting that we can’t do it on our own. It opens us up to judgment, shaming, mocking, and dismissal. And it’s something which Penpa and I have struggled with in our lives, to be humble about what we’re unable to do and allow others to help us.
I wish I could say that by asking y’all for help, all those worries were shown to be baseless, that we got nothing but love and support and encouragement. But that wouldn’t be honest.
The truth is that people who we know love us have chosen not to help because they don’t agree with our lifestyle choices, our weirdo “woo woo” gift economy mentality, our choice to opt out of the standard capitalist mentality and into a simple low budget life where we only take income that aligns with our integrity. They see this moment as a chance to teach us a lesson on why we should have been playing the mainstream game all along, and want us to suffer the consequences of not prioritizing money like they did.
We’ve even had strangers mock us for being 30 year olds with a child and yet not enough money to take 3 months off from work to spend time with a dying relative. We’ve been shamed for being in this situation in the first place, told that we have failed as parents and adults due to our lack of money in our bank accounts.
We know that the only reason we’ve been able to choose this lifestyle is because we’re tremendously privileged. Especially me (Brett). We were able to live off of a tiny savings account and no income for 9 months (before/after the birth) and still enjoy a lovely life because of family who could take us out to a nice meal, or let us spend time at their nice home, or co-sign on a car lease, or give us affordable rent in a family property.
We looked at our privilege and realized that we have a duty to use it to change the systems, not perpetuate them. We can choose to opt out of the mainstream capitalist game, we can start building the new systems which will replace the old, we can start living the new paradigm and help usher it in, because we have the resources that others don’t have. With this great privilege comes great responsibility, and we’re doing our best to show up to it.
That’s why we keep thanking you for your support, because despite how odd our choices may look, you’ve still loved us and backed us up. That means the world to us, and it means you’re playing a role in changing the game with us. It’s a journey we’re on together, and we’re ever grateful to have you along for the ride!
And the ride is now taking us to Nepal. There has been a bit of curiosity about how we plan to use the $11,500 which we’re trying to raise, so here’s a quick breakdown. We have tried to only ask for the lower end of what we think we might need, but also give ourselves some room for unforeseen events. It breaks down like this:
$4,500 for travel expenses (tickets, passport fees, visa fees, taxis, special gear, etc).
$5,000 for medical expenses (Western & Tibetan medicine, doctors, healers, pilgrimage, healthy diet, etc.)
$1,500 for housing ($500 a month for rent, utilities, furnishing a place, etc.)
As we’re leaving our income stream behind and will have to organize a new one upon arriving, and we don’t know how long we’ll be in Nepal, we set this budget so that we could be there for 3 months focused primarily on caretaking, while building up an income to stay longer if that becomes the case.
We recognize what a sacred gift you’ve given us with your donation, and promise to treat it with so much care and respect. And we’re very aware of the fact that the money we’ve raised is evidence of how privileged we are. It’s one thing to have many friends and family who love you and will donate to you, but if they’re all impoverished and can only give $5 each, then there’s only so much to raise. We’re so lucky that not only do we have lots of people who love us, they are also capable of giving donations that range from $15 to $50 to $100 to even $1,000. We recognize that with this great privilege that has allowed us to finance this trip and healing expenses, we have a great responsibility to show up in service on every step of our journey.
We’re close to our goal and we have faith that we’ll make it, thanks to your support. If you can help spread the word, find someone who is willing to give a little, or a lot, we will deeply appreciate it, and we promise to put it all to good use!
So much love and blessings to you all,
Oh My, Oh My ! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you !
Did you see what you all did ? You raised over $7000 in 3 days. Because you care, because you love, because we are interconnected.
It’s overwhelming to receive all your love, prayers, blessings, words of concern, donations and support.
Your support makes it possible for us to reconnect back with my family, introduce our Gem to my mother in person, wrap her in our love, fulfill her wishes, give her alternative treatments.
Since the last update, we will be getting a second opinion about the diagnosis from another hospital, so we will redo the endoscopy biopsy and CT Scan.
She is now on Tibetan Medicine since this discipline gives better prognosis for cancer. The Tibetan doctor has put her on very specific diet, sleep, lifestyle and mental, emotional spiritual health routine.
So far, her health hasn’t deteriorated since the last week.
My brothers are looking after her, trying their best to make my mother proud of them hoping it will ease some of her worries for them.
Last we spoke, my mother sounded pretty equanimous. She will do her best to stay as long as she can, while accepting that she might just have few months or less as well.
She just wants the family to be together and be surrounded by loved ones.
And you ALL made this possible. You all donated with whatever capacity you can and sent us prayers and love.
I am convinced that Love will trump everything.
We are grateful, our family is grateful.
With so much gratitude to all of you,
- Penpa, Brett and Gem