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Revel HQ
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February 18, 2022

How She Revels: Daphne Boxill

My real passions are writing and photography.

I've been learning...I am not alone. True, I am not married and I don't have any family nearby, but I have friends and a community of people who are rallying around me and it's been amazing.

Location: Toronto

What do you do for work?

I do office work to pay the bills, but my real passions are writing and photography.

Best thing you’ve read or streamed lately?

I've been watching the fantastic Bridget Everett in the series Somebody, Somewhere. It's a lovely quiet drama that is often very funny. I had read about Bridget Everett before but I wasn't really familiar with her work. Then I started watching the series and I quickly became obsessed with her. There's a YouTube video of her singing "Me and Bobby McGee" with Patti Lupone and it makes me so happy when I watch it; I want everyone I love to see it.

I am a library fiend. I just love placing perusing the aisles and coming home with a stack of book. These days I've been reading a lot of art books. I just finished reading about the life of Augusta Savage: an African American sculptor and activist who was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Aside from that I read a lot of kids' books to unwind and decompress, Christian Robinson is a personal favourite.

What’s the biggest thing that’s happened to you lately?

Just about three weeks ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer and I'm still kinda stunned. Here's how I got to the diagnosis:

Last summer I started working at a food bank and the highlight of the day was these huge and very heavy free lunches. I wasn't used to eating such huge meals and they caused me a lot of gastrointestinal distress. Because of COVID I had to email my doctor and I told him what was going on. We had a phone appointment and he didn't seem too worried. He did book me for a physical in January however, and it was first physical in two years (again, because of COVID). He asked me if I was still suffering and I told him that it wasn't as bad as it was this past summer but I still had symptoms. He thought maybe my gut flora was off and prescribed me some probiotics, but "just in case" I want you to see a gastroenterologist. A few weeks later I had a telephone appointment with the gastroenterologist. He asked me what was going on and he said, "Well it seems as if things have cleared up. So I don't think there's anything to worry about. I could give you a colonoscopy if you want..."

I said, "I'll take the colonoscopy." That was about three weeks ago. The gastroenterologist did the procedure and again assured me that it would be over in 15 minutes and I'd have nothing to worry about. After I got dressed, I notice there was some blood on the sheets and thought it was a bit strange but I wasn't alarmed. The gastroenterologist came rushing to me and said, "I've found a large blockage. I think you have cancer. I'm rushing the biopsy and I'm very worried." And I just sat there blinking. Then he said, "You should hear back from my office by Thursday."

My girlfriend Julie was there to pick me up and take me home. I showed her the piece of paper the doctor had given me that had a diagram of my colon and where the blockage was. Both of us were stunned. There's a saying I'm very fond of, "There are decades where nothing happens and then there are weeks where decades happen." I feel like this definitely applies to my situation right now. So much change in such a short period of time! It's pretty overwhelming. I'm still struggling to get my bearings. In the beginning I was focused on trying to stay positive, now I just allow myself to feel whatever it is I need to feel without judgement.

I don't know what stage I'm at or what the plan is yet, the doctors are gathering that information and I should know by the end of March.

I refuse to call this experience a journey though. A very good friend of mine who just finished cancer treatments told me, "a journey to me means a trip to Paris. I refer to this as a slog through shit."

Greatest fear?

My greatest fear is being sick alone. So I am right now facing my greatest fear, but here's the thing I've been learning...I am not alone. True, I am not married and I don't have any family nearby, but I have friends and a community of people who are rallying around me and it's been amazing. In many ways this diagnosis has awakened that in me: you are not alone.

I am a keen photographer and people at the gallery I belong to have reached out, neighbours, co-workers, friends I have met through Instagram, friends I've met through online courses I've taken, friends I know through Revel...they are all part of his community that's helping me and I am beyond grateful. While I am going through this scary and unknown stuff, I have been focusing on what makes me incredibly happy and that is my photography. I have my first ever group show opening today in Toronto and it goes until April 9th. And then I'm in two more group shows after that! So it's a pretty exciting time!

I am selling prints online to help raise money for my cancer recovery: dfayeboxill.darkroom.tech

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