This life…

Ok. It’s the second half of 2017 now… goodness, there is so much to update, I don’t know where to start… Maybe I’ll just copy-paste from my husband’s cancer recovery and study crowdfunding campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/2g23md5s) for you all to have a better idea of what we’ve been through the past 3 years…

Dear friends!

My name is Oryana, I am a Panamanian violinist and DMA student at Texas Tech University. I am the wife of Francisco, a young Chilean musician that had to battle against cancer twice.

Francisco’s life has been marked by his enormous effort and endurance. Raised by his grandmother since very young, he started working at age 13 in order to be able to study what he has always been so passionate about: music.

I met him on 2012 at the Panama Jazz Festival that takes place every year in my country, he came representing Chile together with the jazz band ‘Los Lautarinos’. A year later, we married. The beginning of our life together was marked by us making plans and working hard in order to achieve them, being our short-term goal to study in the US.

The year 2014 we applied to several universities, having Texas Tech University the programs that suited best to our plans and budget. We both got accepted there and were pretty advanced regarding our admission process as then my husband got diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had to undergo an emergency surgery right away in May of that same year and luckily everything went well due that it didn’t compromise any vital organ. Francisco recovered pretty quickly and his tumor markers were so low that the doctors decided to not put him under chemotherapy back then, but instead to keep him monitored through regular CT scans and lab tests every 3-5 months.

The unexpected health expenses we went through back then affected in a great manner our savings and therefore we decided to do one of the biggest sacrifices in our relationship: me leaving for Texas first, without Francisco. At the beginning, I was totally against it because I couldn’t imagine us an entire year apart from each other, but Francisco insisted that he would recover better if knowing that I wouldn’t delay my studies because of him. This is how we spent a year separated, me in Texas and him in Panama.

The month after his surgery, Francisco rejoined his English courses and began teaching violin again right away, also to all the students that I had left behind in the country. This way, he saved enough money during that year in order to be able to pay for an intensive English course at the ELS in Lubbock, Texas, in October 2015 and for us to be together again. From then on little by little some achievements were made and everything indicated towards him resuming his violin studies soon without problems: he got the needed TOEFL score in November and started officially at Texas Tech in January 2016.

But as the wheel of fortune turns and doesn’t forgive, right at the end of this his first semester as a Texas Tech student (and 2 years after his first surgery), the Cancer reappeared on the lower left side of his abdomen, affecting a lymph node. We were shocked after seeing the images of his last CT-scan! As we asked about the treatment’s prices in the University Medical Center and around, we realized that we definitely didn’t have the remote possibility of paying for it in the US. That’s when Francisco contacted again his doctor in the Oncologic Hospital of Panama and in less than two weeks he was already sitting on a plane on his way to Panama while finishing his final assignments.

His tumor was of rapid growth and as they took it out, it was already of a fist’s size. I myself arrived five days after his surgery because I did have to wait until the semester was done, around 2 weeks after his departure. Then, a month later, he started with Chemotherapy and I see him now battling every day in a very optimistic way despite the days where he has barely appetite, his arms are swollen and hurt because of the needles and canalizations, the fevers and all those things people under Chemotherapy go through.

The reason why I’m telling you all this is because WE NEED YOUR HELP! With all the expenses implied in this hard process, we completely ran out of savings. We have in this moment no more resources left to finish paying for Francisco’s treatment and not even to think about how we will do to cover his further study expenses. Our families have helped us the best ways they could, but they can’t do so anymore. The costs of the medicine and chemotherapy keep entering in the bills and later we will have to keep doing the mandatory follow-ups in the US through CT-scans, labs, physiotherapy and hormone replacement injections that we see no ways how we could pay for them.

Also, being Francisco in a recovery phase during this coming Fall Semester, he won’t be able to make too big efforts working and due to his aching arm veins, he will sadly have to miss the very important yearly orchestra auditions that take place every August-September. This is very frustrating for him because he has a great will of returning to normal activities and is eager to keep learning as much as he can at Texas Tech. Working at alternative fields is not permitted to anyone of us both, due to our status as international students.

The Texas Tech School of Music had given Francisco a scholarship that helped reduce considerably his yearly tuition from around $36,000 to $9,000 USD approximately. Despite this, such amount is still out of our possibilities this year, and when we add the remaining bill amount from his chemotherapy, scans, labs and upcoming follow-up tests mentioned before, everything will end up in approximately $13,000 USD, if not more. In total, we are then trying to gather $22,000 USD in order to give Francisco the opportunity to recover completely from this very difficult illness and treatment, without having to worry about earning money. I want him to be able to focus on nothing else than his actual studies until he is fully fine.

My husband could have just given up, abandon his studies again and spend his life complaining about all the situations he had to go through during these 2 years, but instead of that, he keeps battling. I leave you all now with his own words:

“The principal reason why I persist on my violin studies is born from a never ending strive towards artistic improvement. I have dedicated myself with all my soul to the violin, my entire life is interwoven and deeply compromised with this art in which I have put all my aspirations. It is my duty to continue, I can’t do other than to keep doing my best on cultivating this talent. On the other side, I can’t accept that an illness or circumstances determine the direction of my life, I’ve never done so. People that know me know that well. I’m sure that you all think the same as me and I can even be sure that you would do anything to follow your aspirations in life. So do I, and I want a life with purpose and happiness, and that is something I’ve found through being an artist and educator” – Francisco.

I’m asking you very sincerely and from all my heart that you help us reach our goal. Any contribution will be greatly appreciated and please don’t hesitate to share about our cause!

If you have any questions, please send us a message at my email: oryana.racines@gmail.com

 

Thank you so much!

Respectfully,

Oryana Racines S.

 

 

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Rediscovered my blog!

Ok. It’s very late! But I just wanted to post for myself here that I’m surprised how fast time goes away!!! So I just see that my last post was around what? 2 years ago?? OMG!

I started this blog to keep my dear friends in Germany updated, after I left from my studies there, but I’ve been too bad keeping it up to date… my life has turned into running from one place to another, trying to solve $#!+ that happens!

Well, the thing is that now I’m in Lubbock, Texas at the end of my 1st year of doctorate here at TTU… and whew! that have been very tough 8 months already, away from the people I love: my husband, my mom and cats :-p. We all having weird health issues (well, the cats are doing fine)… first my husband’s cancer (diagnosed last year, but at an very early stage, so it got removed quickly and no chemotherapy was needed THANKS GOD!!), then my mom’s back and hip problems (right in time as I just had arrived in TX), and me with my usual shoulder/neck aches plus now under endometriosis-suppressing treatment (just found out about it in January this year).

And my question now is: will this ever stop?? I mean, I know that LIFE HAPPENS, but… isn’t it weird that so many things all the sudden came during the same time-span???

Well, I was used to have to be strong and just close my eyes and go through the tests life gives to me, but this is ridiculous!!!

Never mind, I will probably use this blog now that I rediscovered it again, and will pretty much vent a bit if things don’t stop getting ugly… I really hope not! And whoever gets to read it… well, sorry :-p

Big hugs!!

Me

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freedom! #2

Ok, 2 years ago I had the feeling that I’ve finally found my place here in Panama. I got a very well paid job in an international school, where I thought that I could finally apply all what I have learned during my time in Germany, especially in my 2nd major: preschool musical education.

Now, after 2 years working there I realized that this was all an illusion. I had to accept that in this country even the education is a business… those who are able to pay lots of money for their children to be in a school are the almighty… it’s a system where the money has the absolute power and is able to put people under such pressure that they just collapse.

I felt this whole time like I was pushed to wear a mask in front of the people coming from outside, because it’s all about the image. Everything ran around the time of arrival, the duties, the lesson’s coverage… the frame, but nothing about the content of the lessons.

Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was in a school or in a restaurant, where the customer sure has always the right! because they’re already paying for it… but I mean, a school is not a restaurant or a shop!!!! Why is it just hard to tell a parent, that their child won’t be able to pass to the next grade-level because it’s developmental behind, for example???!!! Instead of that they try to put pressure on all teachers and counselors to make “miracles” in them…

It was very sad to realize all this things, but now it’s not my problem anymore. I know everyone is trying to do their best, but I see that some people (above us) definitely need to learn how to lead better, especially in the emotional level. Most of us teachers felt no support from them and already after a half of school-year we were so exhausted!! Now many of them, just like me, are leaving because we didn’t resist the weight upon us and had a steady feeling of unfairness.

Nevertheless, it has been 2 years full of learning experiences for me and I have grown a lot as a music and violin teacher. The only thing I know now, is that I need a job where I can be fully myself and don’t need to deal with the mistakes of my unexperienced “bosses”, and due that in Panama nobody has experience of leading a music department properly (as far as I know), than I’d better be my own boss 🙂 freelance rulz!

I might earn less money, but hopefully I can finally live a life without a non-sense-job consuming it. I want to have normal weekends of going out with my beloved husband (and future children) and not having to spend them laying in a couch because I’m just too tired for anything!!!

Slavery system go to hell!!!!!!!

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a junglewood experience

The experience in the Centro Madroño last week with Jane Goodall was for me one the most special and life changing experiences. Her only presence gave us all who attended a sense of peace and fully respect to her, to the animals and the nature that surrounds us.

As I received the invitation to be part of the first Latinamerican and the Carribean Conference of “Roots and Shoots”, I was so excited that even if I was coughing and felt not in my 100%, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes! I’ll go!”

We arrived two days earlier than Ms. Goodall at Centro Madroño, on Monday 7th. It was already an adventure to get there, crossing the Mamoni river, driving on muddy roads full of loose stones and slippery ground. Than we arrived at the place: a beautiful Embera-indian-style community with houses that had an elevated floor, roofs made of palm-leaves and no walls.

There was also a central house, the assembly house, where we had our meetings, workshops and activities around the different topics that were thrown in the air by the Conference leaders.

In the night we slept in tents inside of the houses, so that even in the night we could feel more in contact with the nature than usual and all this gave me a very special sensation, it was just magical!

You would think, what has a musician lost in this place? Yes, it was very humid and my violin sounded kind of “nosy”, but as Danilo Perez says: music is everywhere in the nature! And we musicians can find in there, sources for new inspirations and compositions. But not only that, also being fully in touch with “the Mother” makes you get more grounded and capable to become a better listener of her needs. If there is no nature, there is no inspiration, no creativity, no life!

In the nights, when sometimes the electricity fell off, I had the pleasure of sharing my violin music under candlelight and campfire, also together with Raul, his uncle and friend (with their Embera instruments) and with the guitar-players from the Madroño community. For the November 10th, the Panamanian independence proclamation, I also played typical Panamanian fiddle music for a long while and the participants enjoyed it singing and dancing, we all had a really good time!

Especially in this moments of “no electricity” I realized how important it is to be able to play a musical instrument, because then you are not dependent of any plug and it helps other people to feel calmed and secure in the dark. Also it made me aware of the importance of having a nice repertoire of Folk-music and the availability of instruments for playing it.

Regardless I was only part of the musical group, I sure didn’t waste the opportunity to participate in a active way in the conference and learned a lot about the “Roots and Shoots” program, was able to see what has been done in other latinamerican countries an was really amazed to see what some of its leaders have accomplished in their own lands. This gave me inspiration to finally start helping at ecological projects going on here in Panama (what I wished since very long ago, but hadn’t found the right place to do it)

This is why I’m very happy that the Metropolitan school gave me the opportunity of going to Madroño to learn about Ms. Goodalls great world-initiative and am very excited for the implementing of the “Roots and Shoots” program in our school!

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Happy time

After having a great Saturday resting at my house I must recognize that I’m a really lucky person. I have the life I’ve always dreamed of: living at my house in the nature, working not far from it and even having a well paid job as music teacher in an international school.

Three months ago, I also decided to give me finally some luxury and bought a flight ticket to Germany. These vacations gave me the emotional rest that I needed after such hard 1&half years of getting-adjusted-to-Panama-again. My friend Katha organized me in Stuttgart a place where I could stay on my own, not bothering anyone and not being bothered! This was so important for me, because in Panama I just couldn’t. Having an apt. close to my jobs would be too expensive and wherever else doesn’t really make sense because of the heavy traffic here.

And now that I’m back again, recharged, I finally got the late payment from the conservatory (they owed me my salary from March on!) and was able to buy myself a small car, so my transportation problems are solved!!!

The other good thing is that I have a cute kitten since a week (I always wanted to have a cat again!), it makes me so happy to lay in the hammock and have him purring next to me. Those are the moments of peace that I was seeking for so many years, and now I feel that I finally deserve it 😀

I feel so thankful!!!

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News

I still wonder sometimes why some people aren’t just able to feel how is it to be in the place of the others. It shouldn’t be that difficult! But I think that most of us are so busy with ourselves that we just don’t care! That’s really sad!

Somehow I feel that especially in Panama the people don’t have this sense for empathy. You can already see it in the way people drive here! I don’t know why this attitude, but I suspect that it is because of the bad example that we’ve been taking from the people from the USA that used to live here (it’s allways easier to keep the bad things from a cultrure than the good ones…) and the mentality of consumerism.

This is a capitalistic jungle! totally wild and naked!! If you’re strong enough ($) and know how to make business, you’ll survive, if not… bad luck!

And we musicians are usually the total dreamers! we love what we do, but aren’t able to live from that… Luckily I still know how to teach, but it’s even hard when the people aren’t serious enough and just send the kids to the lesson just for having them doing something… It’s a plenty waste of time, and at the end it doesn’t bring the right results, and of course, it’s the teacher’s fault!!! :-ppppppppp

But today I had a very nice presentation with my students from the Crossroads School 🙂 They were soooo cute! Many parents came after that asking if I’d like to teach their children too, that made my day 🙂

big hugs to you all!

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to be or not to be…

it happens to me every year a few days before my birthday, that I start thinking about what I’ve done all the years till now, and what I want to do this year different… don’t wanna do the same mistakes as all the years before, but at the same time still don’t know for sure the direction, and hesitate too much when it comes to take desicions.. It feels like I’m in a phase right now where everything is possible, and that makes everything much more confusing than ever.

When you are at school the goal is to graduate and see what you’re gonna study in college. When you are in college, it’s almost the same, but than after that is to look for a job. And right now I’m kind of looking for the best job for me, but also don’t wanna fall in a routine with which my days will pass so fast away, that I’ll become 50 without noticing it!!! aaaaaah! no way!

but this is a crazy world! I can still do lots of things and at the same time cannot :-/ there are lots of things that I’d like to have done that I still could do… maybe I want too much? I’m a total non-conformistic person :-p and don’t like anybody telling me what to do or not… hmm, I wrote just a few minutes ago maybe my motto for this my new year: “coffee is my gasoline, unconformity my motor”

let’s see…

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