Giving at Thanksgiving: Help the Sakais

November 27, 2013

CAPSStanSakaiAuctionAn Open Letter to all Cartoonists:

This is a wonderful time of year for most of us. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that isn’t about commercialism, selling toys or candy, or giving presents… it’s about the gathering of family and friends to enjoy a meal together and give thanks for the things that are important in life—health, family, community and any other blessings we might be lucky enough to have been granted in the last year.

For some people, the things they are thankful for can seem very distant in the face of the challenges life has placed in their path. As with any group, some of those in our NCS family have had such challenges to contend with this year, but there is one couple who are in particularly great need that I want to make you aware of.

Stan Sakai and his wife Sharon are beloved figures in the cartooning and comic book world. Stan’s three decades of work on Usagi Yojimbo are examples of the triumph of great talent, great storytelling and creator-owned comics. Sharon has been a fixture at Comic Cons and both are great supporters of the cartooning industry. Sharon’s health has been devastated by cancer and the extent and costs of her care have placed great hardship on the Sakais. Some background from Stan:

“A bit of background with what this is all about: In 2004, Sharon woke up one morning and said, “I can’t hear anything out of my left ear.” It was traced back to a meningioma brain tumor. It is benign, but large and inoperable. There was no hope of it getting smaller. The most we could hope for was that it would not grow larger. She underwent radiation therapy, and that seemed to control it. She went in for regular MRIs, and no growth was detected.

However, it started growing in 2010, and very aggressively. She has facial paralysis on the left side (everything happens on the left side). The paralysis includes her throat, vocal chords, and it has even deteriorated her neck bones. She had lost almost 40% of her body weight in a year. She is undergoing chemotherapy. Doctors don’t see any end in sight for this. There are complications because of the tumor, medications, or just coincidence–diabetes, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, compromised immune system. She has a tracheostomy tube for breathing and a G-tube connected to her stomach for a liquid diet. She can take nothing through her mouth. She is bed-bound, but we try to give her daily physical therapy–walking a couple hundred feet with a walker and/or sitting in a wheelchair.

She had been in the hospital and nurse care from April to September, but we are glad she is home. She requires 24 hour care, so daughter Hannah and her family moved in with us. This includes 18 month old grandson Leo, and another grandchild due in February/early March.

A lot of you do know Sharon, as she had been a fixture at my booth at San Diego and many other conventions. Thank you all for your help, good thoughts, and prayers.”

CAPS, the Cartoon Art Professional Society, is conducting auctions of original art to benefit the Sakais in their need. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to Stan & Sharon to help pay their ongoing medical expenses. Please visit this page to find out how you can donate original artwork to help these wonderful people.

You can also donate directly via a PayPal account, the link to which is also on that page linked above (as of the writing on this, overwhelming response has temporarily shut down the PayPal link… if it’s not working please return later if you want to donate).

Please consider giving at this time of Thanksgiving to help one of our extended family through some truly trying times.

Tom Richmond
National Cartoonist Society

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