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“Shining a Light” on Financial Hardship During Cancer

REMOVING BARRIERS TO TREATMENT: Paul’s Story

Mckeesport, PA

We received this heartfelt letter from a patient’s wife, sharing how our financial assistance program provided them with much-needed support during their battle with cancer.


We want to thank your organization for helping us pay our electric bill (they were about to shut the lights off). There was even money left over for groceries. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

There are no government programs for people like us…we make too much to receive assistance, but not enough to get through the month, especially since my husband is not able to work right now due to his cancer.

Our daughter struggles with addiction, so we take care of our 4-year-old granddaughter. There is no assistance for grandparents who take custody to keep their grandchild out of the foster care system. We would never allow that to happen. She is the light of our lives.

If it weren’t for your program, we would have NOTHING – no assistance.

Paul is very quiet, so I will speak for him and say THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WHAT YOU DO….If there is ever a time when we can give back, we definitely will!!!

Thank you again from Paul and Kristie 😊


We are happy to report that Paul received his stem cell transplant and is on the road to recovery.

Paul’s story, shared by his wife Kristie, is just one example of how the Icla da Silva Foundation is making a difference in the life of a patient facing financial hardship during cancer. The options for support, while fighting a life-threatening disease, are very limited. And timing is obviously important.

We were able to provide immediate support thanks to the generosity of donors like you.

Will you help us continue?

Your donation, no matter how large or small, can make a huge difference in a patient’s difficult journey. Please consider making a gift today to help us keep the lights on and food on the table for those who need it most.

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Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Two Cancers Turned Her World Upside Down

REMOVING BARRIERS TO TREATMENT: Tami’s Story

Ventura, Ca

Tami’s life took a harrowing turn when she received a leukemia diagnosis at the age of 39. It transformed her world into a fight for survival. Chemo and immunotherapy eventually put her in remission.

It was a fragile victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Fighting Two Cancers

Four years later, fate dealt another cruel blow. She was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. To make matters worse, blood tests revealed that the leukemia had returned.

Panic set in. Tami’s world turned upside down as she fought two cancers at once.

Through it all, her husband Tom was her rock. He was her biggest cheerleader, at her side every step of the way. But acting as a caregiver during treatment, while also taking care of their two children, meant less time at work.

Where Would They Get Help

There wasn’t enough money coming in to meet all of the out-of-pocket costs incurred during treatment.

A social worker at City of Hope, where Tami would receive her bone marrow transplant, mentioned a grant program called Icla Cares that might help ease their financial burden. Tami wasn’t working, and her husband’s reduced hours while she was in treatment meant they were walking a financial tightrope.

The Icla Cares Program Was a Lifeline

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Icla da Silva Foundation provided crucial support for Tami and her family. We helped fund housing during treatment to ease their heavy financial burden.

Tami’s breast cancer was removed, and her bone marrow transplant was a success.

It was definitely a struggle for our entire family,” Tami shared, “but thanks to the incredible support from family, friends, and this amazing program from the Icla da Silva Foundation, we survived. Those funds were a huge blessing.”

 

Show Your Support

A cancer journey is a physical, emotional, and financial struggle. It’s a life-threatening battle for the patient that affects the entire family. When we remove financial barriers during treatment, we empower a family like Tami’s to focus on healing and look towards the future.

Please donate to support our mission and help a patient in their battle against blood cancer.

Your gift could provide housing assistance to a family battling cancer, just like it did for Tami’s family.

DONATE TODAY

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Helping a New Father Fight Blood Cancer

REMOVING BARRIERS TO TREATMENT: Haitham’s Story

Palatine, IL

Recently, Haitham’s world overflowed with joy. He and his wife Nicole welcomed their first child, a beautiful baby boy.

Two months later, their excitement was shattered by devastating news.

A Life-Threatening Diagnosis

Haitham just wasn’t feeling right. He was struggling with fatigue and joint pain for months. Red spots suddenly appeared on his body. His wife is a Dental Hygienist; when she noticed that his gums were swollen and bleeding, she demanded he visit urgent care to get blood work.

The blood tests revealed crushing news, this new father was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). He was recommended to receive a bone marrow transplant.

A Grueling Financial Burden

With a newborn baby at home, the physical, emotional, and financial burden of blood cancer felt insurmountable.

Haitham had not been able to work since his diagnosis. He could barely stand from the fatigue. His wife Nicole was ready to return to work following maternity leave. But now with the transplant coming, she had to switch to a part-time schedule to be his caregiver.

Things were very difficult for me and my wife,” Haitham recalls. Just as they were on the brink of losing their home and car, a social worker at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, connected them with the Icla da Silva Foundation.

Giving Him A Fighting Chance

Through the Icla Cares program, we provided funds to ensure they could afford housing and transportation while he underwent a bone marrow transplant.

Thanks to our donors, we provided support at a critical moment in their battle against blood cancer. The grant helped keep a roof over their head and maintain their only vehicle while he was in treatment. “It gave me peace of mind,” Haitham says, “knowing we wouldn’t lose everything.”

Fortunately, the transplant was successful. Haitham is currently in remission and slowly recovering.

He is not yet able to return to work, but he is strong enough to care for their son while his wife is at work. We wish him a full recovery and many cherished years with their baby boy.

You Can Help

The Icla da Silva Foundation offers support and hope for a family in their battle against blood cancer. For a patient in financial crisis, we provide grants for meals, transportation, and housing while they are in treatment to receive a bone marrow transplant.

Your support empowers a patient like Haitham to focus on healing. Your donation will ensure a family has the resources they need to fight a life-threatening battle.

Please donate today.

DONATE TODAY

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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No One Expects to Receive a Blood Cancer Diagnosis

REMOVING BARRIERS TO TREATMENT: Cindy’s Story

Hope, ID

Cindy and her husband were enjoying retirement, but their golden years were threatened when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The only path to a cure was a bone marrow transplant, a long and arduous therapy that carries a high risk of complications. The news overwhelmed Cindy and her husband, but she was determined to fight.

Following her diagnosis, Cindy spent two critical months in the hospital.

After being approved for a transplant, they had to relocate to Seattle. Treatment is intensive and bone marrow transplant patients are required to stay within 30 miles of the transplant center in case of complications.

Her husband packed up their dog Murphy and moved in with family to be closer to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

It was a scary, challenging time. Battling her disease was compounded by the stress of mounting expenses. No one plans to receive a diagnosis of blood cancer. As a couple on a fixed retirement income, the added cost of housing, transportation, and meals while in treatment was a lot to take on. How would they get through this?

That’s when the Icla da Silva Foundation stepped in. Thanks to the generosity of donors, we provided critical funds for transportation and meals during treatment.

Cindy was grateful for the support she received.

The assistance helped us stress less about all the bills and focus more on getting well. Having cancer is stressful enough. It’s wonderful knowing that there is an organization like the Icla da Silva Foundation to lessen the burden.”

Her transplant was successful and we wish Cindy a full recovery.

Will you help a patient like Cindy as they battle a life-threatening blood cancer? Your donation will give them hope and strength to face each day.

Please donate today.

DONATE TODAY

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Little Warrior: Valeria’s Brave Battle

REMOVING BARRIERS TO TREATMENT: Valeria’s Story

Huntington Station, NY

Imagine your baby spending months in the ICU, those tiny fingers and toes grasping for life.

Baby Valeria was born with a rare genetic blood disorder. She faced unimaginable challenges before reaching her first birthday. A stroke, heart attack, and collapsed lungs all threatened this little warrior’s life.

For Valeria’s single mom Marcia, the world came crashing down. Forced to leave her job and apartment, she found herself facing her daughter’s fight alone, sleeping in the hospital on a chair.

The emotional and financial burden seemed insurmountable.

We learned about their story when Valeria was scheduled to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant at only 10 months. Helping patient families navigate the difficult journey before and after transplant is what we do.

The Icla da Silva Foundation stepped in to help a mother in need.

Thanks to the generous donors that stand with us, we provided Marcia and her baby with a safe haven, a warm place to recover as the transplant worked its magic.

We also offered Marcia something just as crucial: emotional support and a shoulder to lean on. Our team member Adriana became a beacon of hope for Marcia, guiding this single mother through her darkest moments.

“Thanks to my dear Adriana. She touched my heart with her caring and persistence. She is a warrior and a fighter, just like all of the patients and families that she helps.” -Marcia M.

Little Valeria’s transplant was successful. She is still struggling, but she is home with her mom. The medical team is managing her symptoms and this tiny warrior keeps fighting.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, baby Valeria received the care she desperately needed. But her story is not unique. Countless families face similar struggles as their loved ones battle life-threatening illnesses that are treated with a bone marrow transplant.

You can be a hero to a patient like Valeria. Your donation will provide critical support for families like Marcia’s, covering essential expenses like transportation, meals, and housing during their fight for survival.

Click the donate button below and become a hero for a patient like Valeria.

DONATE TODAY

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

Watch a short video of baby Valeria

 

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Fanny’s Fight Against Blood Cancer

REMOVING BARRIERS: Fanny’s Story

Patchogue, NY

Fanny has always been a healthy, hardworking woman.

But last year, she was overcome by debilitating back pain. She thought it was just from working long hours. When a lump suddenly appeared on the back of her neck, her husband Angel sent her to the doctor and a biopsy was ordered.

Fanny was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Peripheral T-cell lymphoma. This is a fast-growing blood cancer that could quickly metastasize and spread to the rest of her body.

They needed to take immediate action.

She was sent for chemotherapy treatments. As a result, she could no longer keep her job as a childcare worker. The chemo left her so fatigued, that Fanny barely had the strength to keep up with her own children.

Her husband Angel was her rock. He kept insisting that everything would be ok. He would take care of her, and they would beat this together as a family.

After a year of chemotherapy, Fanny was finally scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant.

From Bad to Worse

Fanny and Angel have always worked hard. It wasn’t easy, but they did it together. They were able to keep the bills paid and even save a little for their future.

Now that Fanny was unable to work, finances were tight. Angel had to take eight weeks of unpaid leave to support her during treatments. This left the family with limited income and their savings depleted.

Once Fanny was scheduled to receive a transplant, Angel was told he would need to take months off from work to be his wife’s caregiver.

They have been battling a life-threatening disease with tremendous uncertainty for a year.

Now they had to worry about how they would pay the bills. How would they keep food on the table and pay the rent while Angel was a full-time caregiver? Fanny and her husband were afraid, they worried about their children.

Support for a Family in Need

That’s when the Icla da Silva Foundation stepped in. We provided vital financial support, funding rent, meals, and transportation during her treatment.

The Icla da Silva Foundation changes lives for families who face the burden of blood cancer. We provide much-needed financial support, helping a patient like Fanny focus on their recovery, not their bills.

You Can Help a Patient’s Fight for Life

Her bone marrow transplant was successful. The worst is over, and Fanny is grateful to be alive. She refers to the Icla da Silva Foundation as her “Angels”. We came into her life unexpectedly and provided critical support at a time when she needed it the most.

Fanny says she will be eternally grateful for the Icla da Silva Foundation. She is thankful for the life changing support she received.

You can help a patient like Fanny in their battle against blood cancer with a financial donation.

Your donation will help cover essential expenses like transportation, meals, and housing so a patient family can focus on healing.

Your gift will ensure that they won’t have to delay treatment.

Please donate today.

DONATE TODAY

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Her Brother is Her Hero

REMOVING BARRIERS: Mackenzie’s Story

Hoboken, New Jersey

After having dinner with some friends, Mackenzie developed stomach pains. Could it have been something she ate? The pain was so intense that she had to visit Urgent Care.

They recommended an over-the-counter acid blocker. It was probably gastritis.

But the pain didn’t go away. A few weeks passed, and eventually, she ended up in the ER.

After several rounds of bloodwork, they realized it wasn’t gastritis. Mackenzie was diagnosed with leukemia. The pain in her stomach was not from something she ate. The leukemia had spread to her stomach, which was very rare.

Chemo started immediately.

Unfortunately, it caused a reaction that put her in the ICU. Those first 34 days in the hospital were scary. Eventually, Mackenzie received full body radiation, followed by another stay in the ICU, and then a bone marrow transplant.

Obviously, no one expects to face a life-threatening disease. She went out for dinner with friends, and one month later, she was battling for her life.

Still Fighting but Full of Gratitude

Mackenzie comes from a loving, close-knit family. She has a wonderful circle of friends. They were all affected by her diagnosis and she is grateful for the love and support she received from each of them while she fought leukemia.

They were constantly sending her messages and positive thoughts to keep going. Mackenzie insists she would not have gotten through treatment without their support.

She is also thankful for the support she received from the Icla da Silva Foundation.

IclaCares Helps Patients in Their Time of Need

One month before that dinner with friends, Mackenzie lost her dream job due to a corporate layoff. Just like you and me, she was concerned about her finances, but she knew she would bounce back. She relied on savings while searching for a new job. But after a critical diagnosis, and a month in the hospital, Mackenzie was more worried about how she would get through this.

The Icla da Silva Foundation provided financial support for Mackenzie during her treatment.

I was already worried about just making it day-to-day…it was such a huge relief to have some financial support…and even the emotional support, always checking in on me.” -Mackenzie S.

She told us, “It is so helpful knowing that I have a community that is worried about me and wants me to get better. I am really appreciative of you.”

Mackenzie is grateful for all the support she received, from her family, her friends, and the Icla da Silva Foundation.

But one person stands above the others.

Her Hero

Mackenzie is truly grateful for her older brother Mike. He is her hero for donating his bone marrow and saving her life.

“I wouldn’t be here without my brother.” Mike was a 100% match for her bone marrow transplant and she will be forever thankful.

Mackenzie is in recovery but still fighting. The treatments wiped out her immune system and the new cells from her brother are working hard to repopulate and create healthy cells in her body. There are still regular chemo treatments and spinal taps to ensure no leukemia is hiding in her spine.

We are grateful that Mackenzie shared her personal story with us. We will keep in touch with her and we wish her a full recovery.

You Can Help

Many patients struggle to afford everyday expenses like food, transportation, and housing while in treatment to receive a bone marrow transplant. The IclaCares program works to get those patients the help that they need.

“When you are in treatment, the last thing you want to think about is how am I going to pay my rent.”

By donating, you can ensure that a patient has the basic necessities while they are in treatment.

Your gift will assist a patient like Mackenzie.

Please donate today.

DONATE TODAY

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

Watch this brief video of Mackenzie sharing her story.

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Happy to be Home with His Family

REMOVING BARRIERS: Marc’s Story

Halfmoon, New York

After several years of unexplained pain in his stomach, Marc was diagnosed with myelofibrosis. It’s a rare cancer of the bone marrow that disrupts the production of blood cells.

His only cure was a bone marrow transplant.

Marc received a transplant, but he encountered many complications during treatment.

A Long Recovery Process

Marc was in treatment much longer than expected. A blood clot lead to encephalopathy. His heart stopped several times, which led to a pacemaker. He had GVHD and he may need to have a liver transplant.

He was expecting to be away from home for 1-3 months, but it took more than 6 months.

As is usual with most transplant centers, he was required to stay within 30 miles of the medical center during outpatient treatment. But Marc, his wife, and their teenage twin boys live 150 miles away.

The Caregiver Experience

Marc’s wife Talin stayed with him as a caregiver.

The transplant team requires a dedicated caregiver before they will even schedule a bone marrow transplant. Someone must be available full-time to help the patient during transplant and recovery.

A caregiver assists with transportation to the outpatient clinic, maintaining a medication schedule, and keeping an eye out for changes in the patients condition or signs of infection.

Of course, a big part of the job is love and attention.

Overcoming Obstacles/Grateful for Assistance

Marc had gone through diagnosis, treatment, and a bone marrow transplant. This was followed by medical complications and a long road to recovery. All during that time his wife took on caregiver responsibilities.

They were both far from home for 6 months. Their boys would visit by train.

Obviously, neither of them could work during treatment and outpatient recovery, but the extra expenses kept coming in.

Thanks to the support of donors like you, the Icla da Silva Foundation helped fund accommodations and meals while Marc was in treatment.

He is grateful.

“It was a relief to have financial help, especially with my wife and I being out of work and having many more expenses being in the city longer than expected. We were both shocked and became emotional by the generosity.

It is such a wonderful organization that can take a tragic event in one’s life and turn it around to ease the burden of others going through a similar situation.”   -Marc M.

Looking to the Future

Marc is still under medical supervision, but at least he is at home surrounded by his family.

Still, we’re sure he would like to get back to the way things used to be.

Marc was an 8th grade social studies teacher, dean of students, and coach for both football and basketball. He hopes he’ll be well enough to return to work in the future.

He would also like to take a much-needed vacation.

Before all that, Marc must wait for his immunity to improve. He just wants to be able to see his family and friends without masks or restrictions.

We hope that happens soon, and we wish the best for Marc and his family. The Icla da Silva Foundation was happy to play a role in his recovery.

You Can Help a Patient in their Time of Need

Your donation will help a patient overcome obstacles during treatment and put them on a path to recovery.

Please donate to ease the unexpected burdens of a patient in treatment to receive a marrow transplant.

Support our mission by making a donation today!

DONATE TODAY

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Assisting the Patient Caregiver Experience

Las Vegas, Nevada

Every family experiences great difficulty while their loved one battles a life-threatening disease. So many lives are thrown into turmoil once a diagnosis is revealed.

In addition to heart-wrenching concerns and fear, many struggle with the financial pain of keeping it all together.

This is the story of one patient’s family.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Luis was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

His only hope for a cure was a bone marrow transplant. But he lived in Las Vegas where there is no transplant center, so he had to travel to Southern CA to receive care and prepare for his transplant.

Although his family comes from a modest background, they made it work for several months. Unfortunately, medical complications ensued, and they eventually exhausted their savings.

Luis’ wife Madelourdes remained with him as his caregiver.

The Caregiver Requirement

Every transplant center requires a 24/7 caregiver to help a patient during treatment and transplant. It’s required by the medical team, but the expenses are not covered by many patients insurance. The cost of housing, transportation, and meals became too much for Luis’ family.

Their only source of income came from their daughter, who was living in Las Vegas. As a single mom working two jobs, she did the best she could.

Luis’ wife slept on two chairs at her husband’s bedside.

Assisting with Lodging and Meals

The Icla da Silva Foundation assists bone marrow transplant patients and their families during a very difficult time. Through our IclaCares program, we were able to provide funds to Luis’ family for lodging and meals.

The family will use the lodging funds sporadically so his wife and caregiver Madelourdes can get a decent night of sleep and a shower every once in awhile while her husband completes treatment.

As soon as they received the news, the family called us with tears of joy. They were overwhelmingly grateful for the support we provided.

We wish Luis a full recovery.

We were happy to help this family. We only wish we could do the same for more families in their urgent time of need. No one should have to sleep between two chairs while their loved one battles a life-threatening disease.

You Can Help

Your donation will make a difference to a patient family in desperate need. Every gift, no matter the size, will help a family who has a loved one on the difficult path to receive a bone marrow transplant.

Please consider making a donation to help a patient family like Luis’.

Thanks for reading.

donate

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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A Young Boy from Alaska Continues His Journey to a Cure

REMOVING BARRIERS: Owen’s Journey

Shishmaref, Alaska

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.

DONATE TODAY

You can watch the TikTok Owen’s Dad posted of his first transplant, shared on our YouTube channel.

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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