More than 25 years ago, Rhynett Chatman was diagnosed with cancer. She fought that battle and was fortunate to survive.
Now she is fighting cancer once again.
In May of 2017, she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). MDS is a form of blood cancer which prohibits the body from producing enough healthy blood cells in the bone marrow.
Rhynett told us that she always felt tired, and she lost a considerable amount of weight. Despite chemotherapy and numerous blood transfusions, there was no improvement in her condition.
Most Recent Diagnosis
Recently, her diagnosis was changed to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). There was a definitive overproduction of immature blood cells in her bone marrow. AML quickly gets worse if it is not treated immediately.
Doctors advised Rhynett that she would need a bone marrow transplant in order to survive.
Searching for a Match
For African American patients with various blood cancers like leukemia, finding a matching bone marrow donor is a difficult task. The chances of finding a match on the national registry are only 23%. There simply aren’t enough Black donors on the registry. For comparison, White patients have a 77% chance of finding a matching donor on the registry.
We are trying to change this unfortunate fact.
The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be the Match registry. Our efforts are focused specifically on adding more diversity to the list of potential donors.
We are trying to help Rhynett find a matching donor by holding donor drives. We share her story, explain the need, and provide details on joining the registry and donating stem cells if you match a patient in need.
Anyone between the ages of 18-40 can join the registry at no cost. If you match a patient, they don’t even use your insurance to perform the transplant. Be the Match takes care of everything.
To join the registry in support of Rhynett, please click this link:
join the registry
Rhynett’s Search for a Donor
Unfortunately, there is no matching donor in her family. And there is no match for her on the national registry.
We are doing everything we can to share her story and enable more people to join the registry on her behalf.
Rhynett tells us that her body hurts. “I get tired easily. I have been receiving blood transfusions for months now…it’s all very overwhelming, but God is in control”.
She is grateful for the support of her friends and family. She is also thankful for her church family at the Northside Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Florida. She has been worshipping at Northside since she was 14 years old.
She Has Faith
Despite her battle with this life-threatening disease, Rhynett has faith that God will provide.
She enjoys reading, traveling, and singing. She has traveled and sung extensively, trying to be an encouragement and a blessing to the Brotherhood of her church. She loves singing and spreading the “Good News” through the gift that God has blessed her with.
Rhynett sang for many years with her church group Total Praise, as well as the Northside Acappella Mass Choir.
“Singing has always been the thing that kept me motivated and content. I miss it so much.”
Unfortunately, chemotherapy has affected her vocal cords.
Join the Registry
Please help us in Rhynett’s search to find a matching bone marrow donor. Join the registry. After clicking the link, follow the prompts to create an account and register to become a potential donor.
You can also help us spread the word by sharing Rhynett’s story.
join the registry
“I know if you can help in any way, you will. May God bless each of you for your kind hearts and loving spirits.”
-Rhynett ChapmanSurviving Cancer While Being Ethnically Diverse
We live in a world that is becoming more ethnically diverse. This diversity makes every one of us richer in experience, knowledge, and understanding. Every day we observe different cultures, practices, foods, and religions. We recognize people for who they are, with different skin color, dress and speech.
We understand that diversity makes each one of us unique.
We celebrate it. We honor our heritage and our own ethnic background. We tell stories and share traditions with our sons and daughters, and we reflect on the uniqueness that makes us who we are.
For patients suffering from a blood cancer like leukemia, lymphoma or sickle cell, being ethnically diverse can challenge their survival.
70% of patients in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, do not have a matching donor in their family. As a result, they rely on the NMDP registry, managed by Be The Match, to find a potential donor, a matching donor.
The best chance for a match is to find someone of similar ethnic ancestry who is willing to donate stem cells or bone marrow.
Unfortunately, many ethnicities are currently underrepresented on the registry, making it more difficult for those patients to find their match.
The Icla da Silva Foundation focuses on adding more ethnically diverse donors to the Be the Match registry. We strive to educate and inform more people about the importance of adding yourself to the registry and giving more hope to patients who are searching for a potential donor.
Answering The Challenge
There are 3 common questions regarding becoming a potential donor and giving a patient a second chance at life.
A. Is It Difficult?
Joining the registry to be included in patient searches is easy. Click any of the links on this page, set up an account with email and password, and answer a few questions. A swab kit will be sent to your home. Once you swab the inside of your cheek and return it to Be the Match, you are entered into the registry and included in patient searches.
Everyone should do it.
The total registration process takes about 8 minutes…10 minutes if you type slow like me.
B. Is It Scary?
There has been a lot of misinformation about bone marrow donation in movies and popular culture.
None of it is true.
There are two ways to donate bone marrow, (1) the more common PBSC method, performed at an outpatient clinic, and (2) a donation performed surgically, at a hospital.
- 80% of donors make their donation through PBSC (stem cell donation), which is a non-invasive outpatient procedure. PBSC donors receive daily injections of a drug called filgrastim for five days, to increase the number of blood-forming cells in the bloodstream. Then, through a process called apheresis, a donor’s blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm.
- 20% of donors do so with a surgical procedure done under general or regional anesthesia in a hospital. While a donor receives anesthesia, doctors use needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of the pelvic bone.
C. Is It Expensive?
The cost to donate bone marrow or stem cells is 100% free and doesn’t utilize your insurance. Be the Match will make sure that you have everything you need to donate. Whether it’s a ride to a transplant center, a letter explaining your donation to your employer, or help with childcare, Be the Match will be there for you.
Consider A Simple Solution
Join the Registry
Everyone can become part of the solution by joining the Be The Match registry. Inform your family and friends about the importance of adding themselves to become potential donors. You may become a life saver to a patient in need, a patient who does not have a match.
What would you do if you were faced with the challenge of dealing with a blood cancer like leukemia or sickle cell? Where would you go to search for a matching donor? How would you find someone who shares a similar ethnic background to you? There are over 14,000 patients who currently need a matching donor. Many will not survive because they can’t find someone like them, someone like you.
Remember, ethnically diverse patients are not well represented on the registry. If you are ethnically diverse, you are the only one who can change this fact.
JOIN THE REGISTRY
If you have already registered, thank you. There are other ways that you can help us add more diversity to the registry.
Host A Drive
Are you involved with a group or organization that is ethnically diverse? Join forces with us and host a donor drive at your school, work, or social organization.
We do all of the work, you just have to make the introductions.
HOST A DONOR DRIVE
You can also volunteer, and work with us to make our donor drives bigger, better and more inclusive.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER
The Donation Process
Do you still have questions about the donation process?
Please join the registry and give greater hope to patients in need, it’s their only chance for survival.
Remember, you may be someone’s cure.
Sign Up. Save a Life.
JOIN THE REGISTRY TODAY
Written by Bret Itskowitch