Please help out Sarah Kirsch (formerly known as Mike Kirsch)

  • Published April 5, 2012 By MRR
  • Categories News


Please help a dear friend, Sarah Kirsch, an important figure and driving force in the ’90s Bay Area punk scene and beyond. She continues to be an important part of our community, our culture, our music scene, and many of our lives.

Even if you don’t recognize this name, you probably know Sarah. She has been a huge part of the punk/radical community for decades as Mike Kirsch (Fuel, Sawhorse, Pinhead Gunpowder, John Henry West, Torches To Rome, Bread And Circuits, Please Inform The Captain This Is A Hijack, Baader Brains, Mothercountry Motherfuckers, etc.). She not too long ago came out as a proud trans-woman, and almost immediately was confronted with these terrible health problems.  Money is badly needed.


Our good friend Sarah Kirsch was diagnosed over summer with Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disorder that causes leukemia and other cancers. Despite being put through the f’n ringer by chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and very long hospital stays, Sarah is staying strong and fighting hard, finally out of the hospital and at home with her amazing partner Jess and loving full-time caregivers and friends, Paul and Ilya.”¨”¨

Aside from the unconditional emotional and physical support Sarah has received from her devoted extended family and friends, donations to date have been enormously helpful in lightening the financial burden of this kind of illness. The demand for supplies not covered by insurance is, however, unending and deepening — from food to cleaning supplies to lotion to kleenex to parking at the hospital… and this is to say nothing of larger caregiving expenses.

It is all adding up and multiple life savings have already been depleted. “¨”¨If you’re able and would like to contribute in this way, please check out our WePay account below. There is no donation too small, every $ helps.”¨”¨


***An Important Update and Appeal for Sarah (September 5, 2012) ***

Dear Friends and Family,

We cannot adequately express how grateful we are for the support you have given us through this impossible time. Sarah’s health and spirits have strengthened so much thanks to the emotional and financial support she has received from the community in recent months. We could not have made it this far without you.

Unfortunately, the progression of Sarah’s rare and complicated illness has not followed an ideal path. Her bone marrow—wherein resides Fanconi Anemia, the disease that put her in the hospital and that she continues to fight—has begun to gradually come back, meaning that her body cannot produce blood cells as it should. Although it has only regained 3% of her body’s marrow, according to recent preliminary test results, as compared to 97% percent post-transplant marrow, this small amount is sufficient to cause concern amongst her medical team that more must be done before the transplant can really take effect.

In short, unfortunately, Sarah must now undergo more chemotherapy in the coming months. This chemo will be aimed at suppressing the diseased marrow and allowing the healthy, transplanted marrow to fully take over.

Chemotherapy has always been quite difficult for Sarah, and now seems to be an especially unideal time to undergo such a devastating procedure. Sarah had been starting to gradually return to a more normal routine of life—going outside, spending time alone, even driving and playing some music—and a regimen of chemotherapy means an unwelcome regression to where we were many months ago, when Sarah couldn’t go out to public places or eat at her favorite vegan spots due to her body’s inability to combat infection and the general toll of chemotherapy.

We are reaching out to the community with another call for financial support—for rent, groceries, gas, money to pay for care-giving assistance, co-pays for hospital visits, cleaning supplies, emergency funds, etc. All of these things add up very quickly and make an already impossible situation that much more difficult. Any support you can offer is extremely appreciated and no donation is too small.

The link again:

Again, Sarah and those close to her are SO THANKFUL for the support that has already come our way. Though all of us (and especially Sarah for the time-being and likely for a significant time to come) can’t reach out to all of you individually who have shown support in so many ways, it is truly inspiring and incredible to receive support and read the messages that so many people have to offer us. Please accept this general THANK YOU and know that you have contributed in a great way to sustain all of us in this time of extreme need.

Sarah’s Friends and Caregiving Team


*UPDATE 5/1/12* (a more recent update appears above the video)

From Sarah’s Support Team:

Wow! It’s almost unbelievable how many people have come out of the woodwork to support Sarah. Our heartfelt thanks to MRR for putting the word out more broadly, as well as to each and every one of you who has given to Sarah’s cause. From the largest donations to the smallest, to even those of you who have just been able to send along much needed and appreciated words of support, you truly don’t know how much this means to Sarah, her family and our caregiving team of friends.

We’d also like to extend a huge thank you to Sarah’s parents, who have been supporting us and her in a tremendous way. Parental help is often taken for granted, so we want to make sure everyone knows how invaluable their assistance has been.

Sarah’s situation is gradually improving, but it’s going to remain a difficult road to recovery, and we’re not out of the woods by a long shot (just over half way through the dreaded 100-day home lockdown for starters). She has just started to do things like take a nightly walk outside, and is even spending some time working on record artwork and starting to play a few notes on her synthesizers and guitar.

The best news has been that preliminary blood tests have shown that the transplant has taken 100%, although a more invasive bone marrow biopsy is required to know for certain.

Unfortunately, though, Sarah still has precious little energy (even on good days), and though she wishes she could write or call many of you to express her thanks and talk to you individually at length, the enormity of fully resuming any kind of contact with anyone beyond the people who are here caring for her is still very daunting.

But to everyone who has been showing support in ways large and small, Sarah says (transcribed by us): “Thanks to everyone — old friends and people I don’t even know… It’s inspiring to see how the community can come together to help someone in need. I wish I could contact everyone individually, people that gave financially or not, but being on so many medications makes it really hard to do anything – like even typing an email is so hard. I apologize to people who I haven’t been able to thank and I want them to know that I’m thinking about them and that all their support gives me strength.”

It’s very hard for us to write an update like this and not be able to enthusiastically report that “We’ve reached our goal!” or anywhere near close, but rather TO RENEW OUR APPEAL at the same time as we give thanks. The reality of the situation is that we are still burning through money like it grows on trees.

Despite all the very VERY generous help of friends, family and others, life savings have been depleted or are still dwindling and budgets are being stretched beyond anything we could have imagined.

If you’ve already given what you can (again, THANK YOU!), maybe pass the word to other friends or help organize a fund raiser. Here is the URL to this post, which is an easy link to send around for context:

Benefit shows are already in the works, from the Bay Area to the East Coast to even Amsterdam (last LÄRM gig, May 26th!) and Japan, and multiple people have offered to organize or contribute to auctions of many sorts. So thanks again so much to all of you for taking some initiative or just sending good vibes.