This is Brandi’s story. She is the first benefactor of a massive push to help as many Chive Charities recipients as possible over the next couple of months.
In 2012, Brandi was working her shift as a full time EMT. As the days turned into weeks, she couldn’t shake the thought that, try as she might to ignore it, she hadn’t been feeling well. Brandi’s a professional, not one to let her mind race, but she hadn’t been this uneasy since her very first call — a trauma accident involving a small child who had broken his clavicle in a sledding accident. She couldn’t remember his name now, but that experience led her to adopt her lifelong vow to stay focused on the task at hand. Keep Calm.
Still, she’d been losing a lot of weight and couldn’t explain why. Brandi’s mind drifted from the nameless boy to her mother. It was 2002 when her mom had fallen ill. Brandi remembered how her mom’s life was flipped upside down; she was unable to do simple tasks as she became increasingly weak and constantly winded. She, too, was losing a lot of weight. That unshakeable feeling rose to the surface again as Brandi realized she was experiencing the same symptoms that plagued her mom 18 years ago.
Her mom’s diagnosis rang clear in Brandi’s memory: Pulmonary Sarcoidosis. This inflammatory disease affects multiple organs in the body, but mostly the lungs and lymph glands. In people with sarcoidosis, abnormal masses or nodules consisting of inflamed tissues form in certain organs of the body. Luckily, her mom had stabilized. For a disease with no known cure, she’d gotten lucky. Pulmonary Sarcoidosis can become something even worse. If it invades your respiratory system, it can turn into Pulmonary Cardiosis.
While reflecting on this, Brandi became overwhelmingly aware of her own symptoms. Brandi thought: please don’t let it be that. Brandi has always had a love of helping people, which is why she became an EMT. She loves her son, Carson, and she loves the open road that always led her to helping other people.
Brandi remembers the day it happened. “When the doctor told me I was sick, I knew what was coming, and I already had done the research on sarcoidosis. Still, when he said it out loud I cried and said, ‘Can I have the Cancer back?’ Because I would rather have cancer. With Cancer you can at least treat it and do surgery to get rid of it. With Sarcoidosis you can’t ever get rid of it, it is there forever. There is no cure, there is nothing to stop the progression of it, only treatment to help with the symptoms.”
After that day, Brandi became engulfed in a whirlwind of horrible symptoms. Seemingly all at once, she faced renal failure, the removal of her spleen, and surgery to place a VP shunt to manage the hydrocephalus. Somehow through all of this, Brandi continued management tasks as an EMT from 2016-2019. Then one day, her eyes started to swell shut. Increased pressure in and around the brain caused the part of the optic nerve inside the eye to swell. Her condition had even caused her to develop Type II Diabetes. There were early signs of the “even worse”: Pulmonary Cardiosis, which can lead to a pacemaker, heart failure, and the need for a heart transplant.
In June of 2019, it finally happened; Brandi could no longer go to work. It was tragically inevitable, as she could only walk for about 5 minutes, and that’s with assistance. She needed a wheelchair to get around. However, a couple weeks ago, she didn’t even have one.
Brandi needed so many things for her home safety and mobility. Hardwood flooring throughout the house, adjustable bed to control her circulation, a wheelchair, an upright walker, it was all too much. But if she couldn’t get it done, she’d just be stuck.
With the walls literally closing in around her, Brandi went to church. She was reading the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11 which says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
As she was leaving, a fellow churchgoer approached Brandi and asked her, “Have you ever heard of Chive Charities?”
“They will help you. You should contact them.”
Last week I released our go-forward plan at theCHIVE and Chive Charities, I announced that instead of pulling back we would be fast-tracking recipient approvals at a record pace.
We moved quickly to approve 20 recipients, including Brandi. “Chive Charities was able to make over $14,000 in mobility and quality of life purchases for her. She has already received her brand new wheelchair and walker.
What really got Brandi excited, though, was Chive Charities’ gift of a therapeutic bed to manage her circulation when she sleeps. Finally, Brandi will be able to actually sleep through the night. Even amid a pandemic, we are still set to have Brandi’s new flooring installed next month.
During one of Chive Charities’ recent phone calls with Brandi, she told us, fighting back tears: “Friday, I got to go through the mall for the first time in 9 months because I had the walker. I was able to make it through the mall and actually hang out with a friend… I haven’t been able to do that because I didn’t have the energy. The grant has opened up a whole new world for me, I feel more independent than I have in a long time. Thank you.”
Before her diagnosis, Brandi loved hitting the road, whether it was travelling to save lives as an EMT or visiting with friends and family. Now, thanks to Chive Charities, and all the donors who made this possible, she’s got a small piece of the open road back.
Chive Charities is hitting the virtual road, too. You see, Brandi was our first recipient from North Dakota. We have now helped recipients across the United States with the exceptions of Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.
Welcome to the Chive Charities Freeway to 50 Campaign! This is a massive initiative to locate and help Chivers in need in the five states we have yet to help – and we need your help to get there! We are calling on YOU to spread the word to people in our missing states who you think would be eligible for a grant from Chive Charities! We’ve made an easy-to-understand sheet outlining who is eligible. Please read that here so you can spread the word about Chive Charities!
We’re not stopping there. We are hoping to approve another 30 recipients in the coming weeks across all states. Chive Charities is digging deep right now, when the world needs it more than ever.
If you are a veteran or first responder, or have a rare medical condition, or you know someone in those categories in need, read this and contact us. If we can help you, we will.
None of this happens without our Chive Charities donors. We’re all a bit strapped now, I know, but our job as a community is to look out for the least of us. If we all do that, the foundation of the Republic cannot be defeated. We have a Bronze option for only $10/month. And that small amount makes all the difference.
Your donation will assure that people just like Brandi receive help they badly need. But it won’t happen without the Chivers presenting a united front. Please donate right here.
To our potential recipients, please fill out the form, keep calm, if you’re approved, help will arrive quickly.