Fundraiser for Denise Cohen from Toasted Walnut

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

At the end of 2016, Denise fulfilled a dream by opening an LGBTQ bar/nightclub in Philadelphia – Toasted Walnut. It provided an inclusive, diverse, fun, and safe environment. The business was growing, creating regulars who enjoyed the time spent at the establishment. All was well, until August 2019. While driving home at 3 am, Denise experienced a sudden severe diabetic crisis, she is now legally blind in her left eye. Throughout her business career, Denise has tackled and overcome several health challenges but this crisis came with some new difficult twists. During this timeframe, she became aware that an incurable hereditary condition increased the already low vision in her right eye. Since her diagnosis, to slow additional vision loss, Denise has been receiving costly injections directly to each of her eyes. This has rendered her unable to drive and made navigating low-level lighted areas extremely difficult.

Through the years, Denise has been notoriously resilient- but 2020 brought some insurmountable hardships. The business of her dreams was shuttered by the unrelenting shutdowns brought about by the pandemic. Her home, which she used as collateral to float the business during closing, is now at risk. At some point you ask yourself, what else can possibly go wrong?

We found out in December of 2020, Denise was experiencing a great deal of pain and some concerning symptoms. Following a biopsy, she was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery has been scheduled for the end of the month providing her white blood count can be managed. At that time, her doctors will determine if there has been any spread and the stage of cancer. She is receiving care at Fox Chase Cancer Center for this condition (and is being monitored for several other abnormalities and hereditary conditions).

For Denise, the coming months, perhaps the entire next year, will be formidable. With medical bills mounting, business rent demands, and the threat of losing her home as loans come due, it will be a stressful battle. When coupled with a health crisis that won’t allow for other employment- it will be even more daunting.

Denise is not accustomed to asking for help, she is the one who normally dons a cape and flies to the rescue. We are asking on her behalf, please join us in our efforts to help Denise. While we cannot help with her medical battles, help us to relieve some of the financial burdens she will experience while she struggles with her health.

No donation is too small. and every one is appreciated beyond measure. Please help to strengthen Denise’s faith and lessen her stress.

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