My Strong Will Campaign
Maya here, attempting to help my Will with his medical bills.
Last May, William Sheepskin (my partner of then six years) went for an impromptu check-up with a urologist, and following two ultrasounds in the space of a morning, was booked for a Radical Inguinal Orchiectomy (surgical removal of a testicle) within the following fortnight. At twenty-six, he had testicular cancer.
There is never a good time for a cancer diagnosis- but Will's career was picking up speed and I had just started my postgraduate studies in architecture. It’s quite something to be twenty-four and twenty-six and smacked in the face with urgent existential thoughts: What does OUR future look like? Do we want kids? Should we freeze sperm? Is Will going to die?
Will stayed strong during the days leading to surgery, but the first time I saw him cry was when our fertility doctor told us that Will was, as a result of the cancer, likely permanently infertile and that our only option was to TRY in vitro fertilisation one day. Chemotherapy also perpetuates infertility, so this one sample would have to be frozen for years until we were ready to imagine life with kids.
The biopsy taken confirmed that the tumour was malignant , and after a two month recovery from surgery, William underwent a course of carboplatain chemotherapy to reduce the chances of spread to the lymph nodes, lungs or other organs. The hardest part was over, right? Yeah... not so much.
Three days after chemo, Will had already taken on remote work. Cancer didn't stop the grind - it just made life more expensive. During a time where Will was supposed to be healing, the cycle of financial stress, fatigue, burnout and anxiety continued to bring him down. A month later Will was back on set and saying yes to any work opportunity that was presented to him, often working seventeen-hour days - succeeded by a week of bed-ridden repercussions because he was pushing himself too hard too soon.
This pattern has continued for a year now and Will has been working tirelessly throughout the entire ordeal, still unable to get back to the position he was in before, as his savings have had to cover all the medical bills that medical aid didn’t.
A cancer journey is a heavy burden, and making light of it is a coping mechanism Will and I tend to resort to. People want to know that you're doing better, so you tell them, "Yeah everything is fine!" while you try convince yourself to believe it too. It's easier to brush off the weight of these experiences with humour than to actually DEAL with them. But it’s become apparent that it just isn’t.
So long story short, I decided to reach out, knowing this puts My Strong Will in a potentially vulnerable position, in hopes that I can help alleviate some of his stresses and together we can attempt to offer him an opportunity to return to his joy in life - making photos.
Along with paying off medical debts, Will still has four years of blood tests, checkups, CT scans and fertility storage to pay for before we can get the final 'all clear'. There are also a bunch of supplements that have helped him recover physically and mentally, which he has stopped taking (because they are honestly too big a chunk of our monthly expenses), and I want him to be able to take these without strain or guilt.
We are looking at about R140 000 to cover what he’s lost and future medical appointments, as well as monthly supplements to get Will back to some sort of normalcy (not the fake kind he's been trying to convince us all of).
Most of all, I want my strong, creative and passionate Will to enjoy his craft and offer him the time to find his footing again to make a living from his lens. I miss this Will.
If you are in any way able to help our Willy get through this ‘ball-ache’ of a disease, we would be eternally thankful! Simply sharing a link to this page would be amazing.
All my love and gratitude,