Removing Barriers – Mark’s Story
It all started when he was admitted into the emergency room in November 2021 with COVID-19.
Something wasn’t right, and further testing led to a diagnosis of MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome. MDS is a fatal disease caused by a disruption in the production of blood cells.
Although rare, Mark was familiar with MDS.
His father received the same diagnosis many years ago. At that time, his father was considered too old for treatment. They sent him home to get his affairs in order, and he passed away 18 months later.
After several bone marrow biopsies, Mark was admitted to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He was fortunate to receive a bone marrow transplant from his brother Dave, who was a 10-out-of-10 match.
Mark received his blood stem cell transplant in June and is recovering.
Due to complications following the transplant, he needed to remain in Seattle longer than expected for follow-up treatment. The hospital requires patients to stay within 30 minutes of the Cancer Care Clinic, but Mark lives outside of Seattle.
With daily appointments, the travel would have been too much for him. He insists it could have ended his life.
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has a Cancer Care House, which they offer to patients at a discounted rate. Mark and his wife had already exhausted their medical leave and depleted their savings. They have been paying their bills, essentially holding two homes – their regular home and their hospital home – while receiving cancer treatment.
They weren’t sure how they would afford it, but they didn’t have a choice.
Removing Barriers – Icla Cares
A social worker from the hospital reached out to the Icla da Silva Foundation and submitted a request for assistance. Lodging during treatment for a bone marrow transplant is one of those barriers that is not covered by medical insurance. The goal of the Icla Cares program is to remove some of those barriers.
Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to help Mark with a grant for lodging during his follow-up treatment.
His cancer is currently in remission.
Mark told us he will be “forever grateful”, but we just want him to recover so he can return home and be a grandfather to his 20 grandchildren.
Please watch Mark Share his heartfelt story below.
The Icla da Silva Foundation has been supporting patients in need of a bone marrow transplant for 30 years. The Icla Cares program removes barriers for patients with critical needs.
Our program is reliant on the generosity of donors. Please consider donating to support patients who require a bone marrow or cord blood transplant.
No gift is too small.
Written by: Bret Itskowitch
Rhynett’s 2nd Battle With Cancer
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.”