Category Archives: Literary Auction

A Letter: Jennifer, on the Literary Auction and her Progress

Nice sidewalk graffiti message

Back in September 2010, we held a literary auction to help our friend Jennifer Derilo beat Hodgkins Lymphoma (and pay some of her bills as an uninsured cancer patient). Thanks to your support, we raised $5,870.18.

I’ve been remiss in not providing you with an update on Jennifer’s health. Many of you have wondered how she is doing, and understandably, been hesitant to ask. I talked to Jennifer about the conundrum, and she decided that she wanted to provide you with an update herself, in her own words, as well as her thoughts on the literary auction.

So here’s Jennifer…

“People love you.”

This was the first line of the very first email Christine sent to me once the literary auction ball was rolling–in particular, when one of our favorite mentors at Mills, Justin Chin, agreed to participate. He was just one of a handful of writers to immediately reply to Christine, “Yes, I want to help Jennifer.”

And then I started to cry.

I made it, dear friends. I’m alive. It has been a little over a year since I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s (April 27, 2010) and almost a year since the outpouring of help, concern, and empathy I was lucky enough to receive not only from our mutual friends but from Christine’s dazzling personal network of friends, colleagues, and peers.

I admit that I cried often from these gestures of love and hope and care, especially from people whom I never met. And I don’t know how to express the depth of my gratitude, how much weight these words would impress on a printed page, how much longer these sentences would run, possibly to infinity if we had that kind of time.

I finished chemo treatments on January 13, 2011. I would’ve finished in December 2010, but I was hospitalized for pneumonia in November and had to delay chemo. It sucked, but I lived through that, too. In the end, I completed six cycles (twelve infusions) of ABVD, the standard Hodge cocktail. And I didn’t need radiation. Victory!

I was declared in remission again on February 3, 2011, which I now consider my Rebirthday. The first time I was in remission was August 2010, after only two cycles (four infusions) of chemo. To be cautious, my oncologist wanted me to continue treatments.

So here I am on my second Cancer Victory Tour in Midwest City, Oklahoma with my dad and his side of the family. For my first Cancer Victory Tour, I was in New York City for three unparalleled and overdue weeks. I took a quick hiatus from NYC and popped over into D.C. when my First Cancerversary (April 27) rolled around. I’ve already celebrated my Rebirthday four times this year, and I don’t intend to stop.

I want you to know, too, that the auction saved me in so many ways. I could not stay on UCSD’s charity care, so the funds paid my hefty share-of-cost for emergency medical coverage–not health insurance–for six months. I saw an acupuncturist regularly during treatments to alleviate nausea, pain, fatigue, and toxicity from chemo. (I’ve recommended this to every cancer patient I’ve met. It made such a difference!)

The funds also helped cover incidentals, such as vitamin supplements, organic food, personal medical aids, and self-care products. I even treated myself once in a while–ice cream, a nice meal out or movie (when my white blood cell count was up), a massage, chemo-hair upkeep (most of my hair stayed…it was just thinner.)

Most important–and this is where I still get weepy–the donations gave me some of my sanity back, as well as respite, dignity, comfort, hope.

To be nakedly honest, it was hard to accept that I deserved such grace, compassion, and generosity. On one hand, and I know how wrong it was to feel like this, I blamed myself for getting cancer; I believed I deserved it because I was irresponsible. I got myself laid off/fired, and I opted out of Cobra, which, ironically, was less expensive than this not-really-health-insurance coverage I have now. Also, maybe I deserved it because I was actually not a good person.

But the auction, the energy around it, and the people involved proved something else to me: no one deserves to be sick like I was (like so many people are these days), and certainly, no one deserves to be abandoned in this context, to be told that one’s cancer was not bad enough to receive emergency federally-funded health insurance. No one should feel like dying in order to be worth saving.

According to statistics, there was never any doubt that I wouldn’t survive. There was a regimen, a go-to list of side effects and meds, scientific evidence. These are the undisputed facts of surviving my cancer, my dysfunctional relationship with The Hodge.

But my doctors never told me about you. They couldn’t have dreamed of such a constellation of support for a patient like me, the dreadful triple threat–uninsured, unemployed, and poor. They didn’t know that besides the cytotoxins “curing” (ravaging) my body, I had friends, friends of friends, and strangers rooting for my survival, psychically making it happen.

Actually, until Christine approached me about this fundraiser, neither did I.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, the entirety of my cancer-free body. I love you, people.


And there you have it. A happy update from Jennifer. 🙂

Jennifer would like to hear from you–so if you’d like to get in touch with her, please leave a comment below. I’ll forward all comments to her.

(for the record, Jennifer’s in the picture above–she’s the one in the running shoes). 😉

Jennifer below: on her last day of chemo with her…chemo, and her fambam in San Diego…


Filed under Literary Auction

Literary Auction Summary

tic tac and my outfit

It is my firm belief that it is hard to be good in our challenging world, and thus, goodness is rare. Very rare. But you have proven me wrong.

In order to defray medical costs and to try to make a terrifying situation a little more bearable, we started up a Literary Auction to help my friend Jennifer Derilo, who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and who is currently without health insurance. She is 32.

(The LA Times has another account of the auction if you’d like to read it).

I provided a mid-auction update a few days ago, and I want to now provide a summary.

Payments on a couple of sold auction items are still pending, but all in all…the auction brought in $3,000.18.

As of today (Friday September 17), direct donations (you may continue to make direct donations to the teamjender AT gmail DOT com account at paypal), total $2,870.00.

This makes for a total of  $5,870.18 raised, enough to pay for the biopsy that Jennifer had to pay for out of pocket, just to get diagnosed. To date, I believe it’s her largest single bill, so you have done well.

In other words: You have done Good. You have done very very good.

I am not one to cry, but at times, I was so touched by all your heart and generosity that tears welled up in my eyes. (seriously, cue the violins). A few of you won auction items *and* also made a direct contribution. You sent beautiful notes that have buoyed Jennifer, who happens to be having a miserable post-chemo week this week.  I have seriously been touched, and am questioning my inner cynic.

Before the auction started, our goal was to raise something around or above one thousand dollars. In fact, when the LA Times asked me how much we hoped to raise, I literally shrugged as I typed, “Over one thousand dollars would be great.” But then the auction started, and in addition to the 13 auction items we already had up, we received 14 more auction items within the next 24 hours (and we received way many more generous donations than that–we had to turn many people away just to keep things sane–and are now considering doing another auction at a later date). So in the end, we had 27 auction items up for bid.

This made me think we could double the $1K amount.

We asked you all to RT, share the auction on your FB pages, and blog about the auction…which then led to something wonderful and unanticipated: media coverage. First, The Rumpus gave us a shout out..and then Carolyn Kellogg wrote a touching and compelling blog post about our auction in the LA Times Book Blog, Jacket Copy.

After the LA Times came The EastBay Express, Galley Cat, and a blog post on by one of the contributing writers, Michelle Richmond.

And those are only the media outlets I know about. Thank you.

People: you have made me proud of humanity. You raised nearly $6,000 to help a young writer with Hodgkin’s pay off medical bills. You will be blessed.

I am speechless. Jennifer is speechless. All I can say is Thank You.

Thank you to the writers who contributed items and services for auction, many of whom said yes without hesitation, didn’t even need to be asked and instead volunteered, don’t know Jennifer personally, and all of whom struck me with their immense generosity:

Lastly, thank you to the Mills College MFA community for your support.

And now Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins for me. It is time for me to fast and meditate and pray for the year ahead.


Filed under Literary Auction

Literary Auction update

Thought I would provide an update on the Literary Auction to help Jennifer Derilo beat cancer. Jennifer was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in late April, and she has NO health insurance–and thus, the auction. A bunch of us are trying to make a tragic situation a little less unbearable by helping defray some of her medical bills.

We’re heading into the home stretch of the auction, people. Many many last minute donations by writers (some of whom don’t even know Jennifer!) flooded in as soon as the auction started on Tuesday, and we added as many of them as we could, to the roster. Thank you to all the contributors, thank you to all the bidders, to all the donors, to all of you getting the word out about this auction. If you want to skip the rest of the update and head straight to the eBay auction click here.

If you want to read another account of this auction, we were blogged at the LA Times book blog, Jacket Copy (thank you to Carolyn Kellogg who wrote the wonderful article).

Additionally, The Rumpus gave a shout out very early on in our auction.

The response has been amazing and beyond our expectations!  But we need to keep getting the word out, and so I urge you to keep doing so (don’t worry, this auction won’t be forever, so your blogs, FB status updates and twitter streams can resume normal business after Thursday, September 16, when the last of the auction items close).

So we have 2 auction waves:

  • the first auction wave will end on Tuesday the 14th
  • the second auction wave will end on Thursday the 16th

Notice I didn’t specify times, because the items were not posted simultaneously, so please watch items that you want to win, closely. As of now, many of the auctions are still reasonably priced–and even more items are of great value.

While the items are geared towards readers and writers, you don’t have to be a writer or reader to bid or find the items interesting. Several of the writers (Chris Abani, Mat Johnson, and Beth Lisick) are auctioning off opportunities for the winning bidder/donor to have a character named after them in a future book. If you’re interested in being actually written into an erotica piece check this auction by Thea Hillman out; she will read the erotica piece to the public on October 8. These items are all a super-unique opportunity for, as the LA Times put it, “literary immortality,” that you will probably not find anywhere else.

We have nonfiction, YA, fiction, and poetry manuscript critiques. This is another special opportunity to engage in personal, one-on-one critique for a manuscript that you are readying for publication, submission to literary agents, MFA applications, or an MFA thesis. (Manuscript pages should be double spaced, 12 point font, with 1 inch margins). The list, in chronological order of auction:

If you are applying to grad school, there’s an SOP critique from Kirsten Saxton, who will also (in lieu of an SOP critique), critique an academic paper. If you’ve got a ready manuscript and want to submit it to literary agents or want to write up a book proposal, Elmaz Abinader will help you with a book proposal or letter of inquiry (or pedagogical advice for one semester–great for anyone starting a teaching career who wants mentorship).

There are a number of signed books and manuscripts at the auction. Some of these items include signed galleys (not found in bookstores) and essays. A good number of the signed books are 1st edition hardcovers.

Additionally, there are a number of items outside of the realm of MS critiques, signed books, and having a character named after you in a future manuscript. These items include:

  • Personalized Artist Book made by and from, Justin Chin. This is a hot item, and for good reason. Who wouldn’t want a personalized item?
  • A painting of Emily Duckinson by Ali Liebegott. Yes–duck, as in “quack quack” (so awesome). I recently updated the auction with a picture of the actual painting up for auction (it’s the second one, with Emily Duckinson in a blue blouse). The paintings usually go for a pretty price! And so far, the painting is bidding at under-market value.
  • Poetry reading for hire by Tara Hardy. Hello? A poetry reading in your home!

You can go directly to the auction here or here.

I do want to take the time and space to send out my appreciation:

First off, I want to thank ALL the friends and supporters who RT’d on twitter, shared on Facebook, and blogged about, links to the auction. You are all so amazing. We are so overwhelmed (in a good way). I am exhausted but the world feels good this week–all because of your goodness. You will be blessed.

I want to thank all those who are bidding on the auction items. I thank you for putting your money to a good cause, and I hope you enjoy the items that you do win!

I cannot forget thanking the participants/auction contributors. Without your incredible generosity, this auction would not exist. Thank you so so much for putting in your time, for extending your generosity, and opening up your hearts to this cause and to Jennifer, someone many of you have never even met. You are truly amazing, and I hope that the Muse gives you extra good treats very shortly.

Again, please get the word out! (Yes, I can be quite the nag–but I hope I’m being charming about it). It’s for a great cause, and well, it’s good karma. You will be blessed, at the very least, by our gratitude.

Thank you thank you and thank you. I will be giving an update on total amount raised, when the auction ends.

Direct contributions can be made via paypal to teamjender AT gmail DOT com.

And let’s dream about a world that one day will have universal healthcare in America. As Alexander Chee tweeted, “I hate that I live in a country where people have to have fundraisers to have the basic healthcare they’d get in any 50 other countries.”

*The above picture is a janky cellphone picture of me and Jennifer in 2006. When the LA Times asked us for a picture, we realized that that was our ONLY picture together! Advice to everyone: always have pictures of you and your friends. And make sure you look SMASHING in that photo. Because you never know.


Filed under Literary Auction

Literary Auction to Benefit Team Jender

spectrum in the sand

We are holding an auction on eBay to benefit the leader of Team Jender, otherwise known as Jennifer Derilo, who is currently kicking Hodgkin’s Lymphoma’s arse (does Hodgkin’s even have a butt? Well, we’re kicking its fictitious butt, then).

The community around Jennifer (aka “Team Jender”) includes some amazing writers who have, out of generosity and a recognition of her fight, offered up some unique items. These items include manuscript critiques and signed books and signed galleys and artist books, all of which are listed below at the bottom of this post. Even if you don’t know Jennifer, the items are of incredible value!

As of September 9, 2010, we have more amazing auction items up for bidding! They are listed as follows:

(manuscript pages are to be double spaced, 12 point font, with 1 inch margins).

I do want to take a bit of space here as to the beneficiary of this auction…(the LA Times Book Blog featured our auction and cause the other day):

Remember your 20something and 30something years? (And if you’re in your 20s and 30s, think about all that you’re up to right now, about all your hopes and the freedoms you have).

Now think about having Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is a name for cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system, which means something very important in your body. Think about how scared you might be, how you would have to brace yourself for the arduous fight for your life. Think about what kind of strength you would need to fight for your health, something you’d taken for granted uptil then, something that 30somethings aren’t supposed to normally confront.

And now think about having to wage this war without medical insurance coverage. Think about not having any savings to fall back on. Think about kicking off your early 30s with a massive debt.

My friend Jennifer Derilo is in such a situation.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, and find her name familiar, it’s because she contributed to the Literary Blog Relay here, writing about her battle with Hodgkin’s. She is a talented writer, one we need to save and help.

I know you might be busy, that you might not have the funds…but I am hoping we can collectively help defray some of her medical costs. I am hoping you will still say yes, you can help.

Please check out the eBay auction! And please spread the word about this auction.

If you would like to make a direct donation via paypal, the fundraising account (aka Jennifer’s account) there is teamjender AT gmail DOT com.

If you need to EMAIL us, please do NOT use that account, as that account was created purely for paypal account purposes and is not checked regularly. Leave a comment here instead. 🙂



Filed under Helpful, Life, Literary Auction, The Personal, The World