A Social Worker Describes Her Experience with Patient Families who need financial assistance from the Icla da Silva Foundation
Cary, North Carolina
Tara McAteer is a clinical social worker with 18 years of experience. She specializes in supporting patients and families with acute and chronic medical conditions.
She recently shared her experience working with patients who needed financial assistance while in treatment to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Below is Tara’s story.
The Patient Experience
Needless to say, life completely changes once you have a child diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, and they need to prepare for a bone marrow transplant.
The change impacts every single aspect of life for the patient, their parents, and even their siblings.
Imagine your child going through months of treatment and being told she needs more treatment or a different treatment.
Then you learn that a bone marrow transplant is the only thing that can potentially save or extend her life. It’s a frightening situation.
The families I have worked with move forward with courage and determination, but it’s impossible for anyone to predict the journey they will endure.
No one can say how many months their child will be in isolation, or the frequency of emergency room visits.
Nobody can estimate the number of readmissions or the exact length of time they will have to spend in post-transplant follow-up in the outpatient clinic.
“How Will I Make This Work?”
Every family has the same painful questions.
Will our insurance cover it? How much longer can I stay out of work? We don’t have any more savings. I already lost my job, how will our family survive?
What about my other children? Who is going to stay home with them, help them with homework, bring them to school?
This has gone on too long – how will I make this work?
Families who were financially stable before diagnosis, may not be in the same position after so many months or even years of treatment.
Many of my families were already experiencing financial hardship before their diagnosis.
The Icla da Silva Foundation
This is where the Icla da Silva Foundation comes into the picture. Their application is quick and completed in coordination with a transplant social worker like me.
Once approved, the assistance is immediate.
Most of the families I referred for support were being threatened with eviction or being evicted. Some had homes that were already in foreclosure.
What is so special about this organization is that part of the criteria for eligibility is treatment-based. Help is available to children scheduled to receive a transplant regardless of their diagnoses. They are helping patients with cancer, immunodeficiencies, genetic conditions, hematological illnesses, sickle cell disease, the list goes on.
In addition to financial support, the emotional impact of receiving assistance from the Icla da Silva Foundation is indescribable for most families. It allows the patient’s family to catch a breath, even if just for a moment before they need to redirect their attention to the next medical issue or the fear of what’s still to come.
The gratitude they feel is something that stays with them forever.
You are Making a Difference
No family can do it alone. No social worker can do it without the support of an organization like the Icla Da Silva Foundation.
Thank you to all of your generous donors! You are all making a difference.
Tara McAteer, LCSW, ACSW, OSW-C
Thanks to Tara for sharing her perspective and experience. We are grateful for the work that she does.
Please consider making a donation to support a patient’s family on their difficult path to receive a bone marrow transplant. You will help keep food on the table or a roof over their head while a patient goes through treatment and transplant.
A Young Boy from Alaska Continues His Journey to a Cure
REMOVING BARRIERS: OWEN’S JOURNEY
Owen’s story begins in the remote village of Shishmaref, Alaska. His family lives on a barrier island just north of the Bering Strait. With a population of only 530 people, it’s a place where family bonds, tradition, and heritage run deep.
At only 9 years old, Owen’s life took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a rare, life-threatening blood disorder.
Owen’s Journey to a Cure
His family embarked on a daunting journey so Owen could receive treatment.
The closest medical center capable of providing the specialized care that Owen needed was two thousand miles away in Seattle. The prospect of leaving their close-knit community and facing an uncertain future was overwhelming, but they had no choice. Owen and his family set off on a path that would test their strength and determination.
Owen’s first bone marrow transplant brought a glimmer of hope, but it was short-lived.
The treatment was not successful and the transplant failed. Once again, Owen’s health hung in the balance. His family gathered their courage and they will try again.
Owen is preparing for his second bone marrow transplant and we wish him success.
Overcoming Financial Strain
The toll of his medical journey and the burden of being far from home continues to weigh heavily on Owen’s family. The financial strain is enormous.
Recognizing their challenges, the Icla da Silva Foundation provided crucial funds for transportation to Seattle. Understanding the high price of internet in Western Alaska, we also offered support for wireless bills, ensuring that Owen stays connected with his loved ones back home.
A Unique Perspective
We often provide meal assistance to patient families. A parent cannot work for many months while their child is in treatment. The combination of medical bills and living expenses can be overwhelming, especially when you are living in an unfamiliar city with no income.
Owen’s situation gave us a unique perspective. His father Christopher told us that, “back home in Alaska, we hunt and gather year-round for most of our food.”
They never had to rely on a grocery store for sustenance.
It was both unfamiliar and expensive. We provided the family with meal assistance so they can focus on Owen’s treatment.
Owen is still fighting his life-threatening illness. His family was forced to travel far from home and stay in a strange city. They had no one else to turn to.
The Icla da Silva Foundation stepped in to provide much-needed financial support for Owen’s journey to receive a bone marrow transplant.
A Father’s Gratitude
Owen’s father expressed profound gratitude for the help they received, “Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my family.” His heartfelt words are a reminder of the dramatic impact we can make on a family in their darkest moments.
We wish Owen a successful transplant and hope that he and his family will soon be able to return home to Alaska.
You Can Help
The Icla da Silva Foundation’s patient assistance program is funded directly by people like you. The cost of transportation, housing, and meals during treatment are not covered by medical insurance.
Will you donate to provide critical financial assistance during treatment? Your support will ensure that a patient doesn’t have to postpone or delay their bone marrow transplant.
Your generosity will provide crucial support to a patient just like Owen.
You can watch the TikTok Owen’s Dad posted of his first transplant, shared on our YouTube channel.
Written by: Bret ItskowitchSupporting a Teenager on his Journey to a Bone Marrow Transplant
REMOVING BARRIERS: JAKE’S STORY
Columbia Station, Ohio
Meet Jake and his sister Bella.
Jake is a brave boy who fought a difficult journey with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). After being diagnosed with this aggressive form of blood cancer, he received treatment and went into remission. But then he relapsed and urgently needed a bone marrow transplant.
Luckily, his younger sister Bella was a matching donor, and Jake received a transplant.
Throughout treatment, Jake and his family faced many hardships. These included the financial strain of his mom having to stop working, and the need to stay at a Ronald McDonald house to be close to the hospital.
During recovery, Jake experienced painful mucositis that made it hard for him to eat.
Thanks to the IclaCares program, Jake and his family received much-needed assistance with meals and groceries. Your support helped reduce some of the stress and allowed them to focus on Jake’s recovery.
BECOME A SUPPORTER
Join Icla Cares by Supporting Patients and Their Families
Jake is still in recovery.
He just celebrated his 16th birthday. We wish him many healthy, Happy Birthdays in the years ahead.
You can make a difference in the life of a patient like Jake by making a donation.
Your gift provides critical assistance, including meal support during treatment. Help us continue to provide comfort and support to a patient on their journey to receive a bone marrow transplant.
Written by: Bret ItskowitchSaving Lives for 30+ Years
The Icla da Silva Foundation has been providing logistical, emotional, and financial support to patients with diseases like blood cancer and sickle cell for more than thirty years.
For patients scheduled to receive a bone marrow or cord blood transplant, we encourage you to fill out the Patient Registration Form and request an application for support.
For supporters, your donation will provide more patients with critical needs on their journey to receive a bone marrow transplant. Please consider a financial gift to support our life-saving mission.
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