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From Caregiver to Receiver: Helping a Patient’s Journey


Floosmoor, IL

Donna’s cancer diagnosis brought a daunting challenge. Treatment meant months without work, leaving her to face mounting bills.

She needed assistance while preparing for a bone marrow transplant, but was afraid to ask.

Donna has always been the one helping others. She has lived a life of giving. She was a school teacher, a caretaker for elderly family members, and a neighborhood maternal figure taking local children to summer camp for many years through her church.

Now it was her turn to ask for help, but it put her in an uncomfortable position.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Icla da Silva Foundation stepped in to provide critical support during treatment. Donna told us that when the email came through, indicating that she was approved there was only $12 in her bank account. We provided crucial funds for groceries and transportation to medical appointments. We also helped her keep the lights on.

Donna was happy to express her gratitude.

Sometimes, no one knows the distress that someone may be in. I was struggling, financially, silently. I continued to care for my aunt and my mom! I’m fortunate to have credit cards so I had resources. It was just awesome to be selected to receive help from Icla da Silva Foundation. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that someone cared!”

Donna’s bone marrow transplant was successful and we wish her a full recovery.

She looks forward to being the one who gives again.

Your generosity can make a life-changing difference for someone like Donna in their most vulnerable moment. Please donate today.


Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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He Was Going to Skip His Bone Marrow Transplant


Winfield, MO

When Terry was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, he was devastated. It started with a visit to the doctor for kidney troubles, and before he knew it, he was faced with a life-threatening illness. His doctor recommended chemotherapy treatments and a bone marrow transplant.

But Terry had some major obstacles. 

He and his family lived an hour away from the nearest transplant center. Relocating for treatment wasn’t a viable option. His daughter, who is disabled, relied on him for both physical and emotional support.

Terry was faced with an impossible choice – skip his bone marrow transplant or risk leaving his daughter without the care she needed.

Providing Life-Saving Financial Support 

That’s when Icla Cares stepped in. We provided the family with the financial assistance they needed to make the transplant possible. With our support, Terry was able to cover the cost of transportation, groceries, and even feed for their emotional support animals.

Thanks to our help, Terry received his life-saving bone marrow transplant. His social worker, Claire Pees at Saint Louis University Hospital, said that “the Icla da Silva Foundation made his transplant possible.

Terry can now look forward to many more years with his family. He can focus on healing and being there for his daughter, knowing that he has a second chance at life.

You Can Help

There are still many patients like Terry who are struggling to afford the costs associated with life-saving treatments. With your support, we can provide critical financial assistance to patients in need.

Please consider a donation and help us support more patients like Terry. Your gift will make a difference and help save a life.


Thank you for your support!

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Mother of 5 Receives Her Bone Marrow Transplant


Cleveland, Ohio

Abby is a mother of five. Her children are aged 19, 16, 5, 4, and 2. March 7th was her daughter’s 16th birthday. It was also the day Abby was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

Abby recently received her bone marrow transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.

Her transplant was autologous, which means she didn’t need a donor. They remove and store healthy blood stem cells from the patient, destroy the diseased bone marrow with high doses of chemotherapy, and return the stored stem cells to replace the damaged bone marrow. 

Removing Barriers

Abby’s main barrier was transportation. She needed to visit the hospital every day to remove and store at least two million stem cells. This process was followed by intense chemotherapy treatments leading up to her transplant.

She has been out of work since her diagnosis. Her husband also had to take time off from work while she was in treatment. The hospital requires a 24-hour caregiver for at least 8 weeks; 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after the transplant. 

The Family Medical Leave Act protects your job, but FMLA is unpaid, so the family was without income.

They were having difficulty affording travel. Their daily trip was an hour each way to the Cleveland Clinic to prepare for her bone marrow transplant. The cost of gas was a barrier.

The Icla da Silva Foundation removed her barrier with a grant for gas. 

When we interviewed Abby before her transplant, we offered additional support.

Please watch her reaction:

All bone marrow transplants have one thing in common, the recovery process takes a long time. It could be a year until her immune system recovers.

Due to the generosity of our donors, we were able to provide the Ramos family with an additional grant to help with utilities and meals during Abby’s follow-up treatment.

“How Am I Supposed to Do This?”

We asked Abby about the impact we have made.

She told us, “if someone could take away just one thing off the list of things to worry about while I go through my cancer treatment, that would mean the world to me. The Icla da Silva Foundation did that for me. You gave me one less sleepless night, one more hour I get to spend with my kids without worrying about making this happen, one less guilt trip because I couldn’t do this on my own.” – Abby Ramos

We wish Abby a full recovery.

You Can Help

Please consider a donation so we can help more patients like Abby. 

Cancer puts the patient in a life-threatening situation. Preparing for and receiving a bone marrow or cord blood transplant presents barriers that are not often recognized. 

The goal of the Icla da Silva Foundation is to remove some of those barriers so patients can focus on their treatment.

Your gift will help us remove more barriers.

In Abby’s words, “…I couldn’t do this on my own.”


Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Removing Barriers – Nicole Perkins is Filled With Gratitude

Brockton, Massachusetts

Although she has suffered a blood disorder for 13 years, which resulted in cancer, Nicole is a fighter. Her heart is filled with gratitude for the assistance she has received.

Nicole Perkins was diagnosed with a blood disorder in 2009. For years, she kept regular appointments at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to have her blood checked.

Everything Seemed to Be Fine

Until she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Nicole also developed a rare disease called Amyloidosis. Both of these conditions are the result of abnormalities in the plasma cells of bone marrow.

Nicole is a hard-working, single mother of three. She never expected to face a life-threatening diagnosis. She also never assumed that she would be unable to work.

She was immediately sent to receive chemotherapy. Her treatments continued every week for 7 months. As expected, chemotherapy takes a lot out of you.

Received Her Blood Stem Cell Transplant

Fortunately, Nicole received her blood stem cell transplant in July of this year.

Her journey is far from over, but she has faith and will continue to fight.


The Icla da Silva Foundation Helped Nicole on Her Journey

Nobody expects to receive a rare, life-threatening diagnosis that requires a bone marrow transplant. Fewer still appreciate the challenges that are associated with treatment and transplant. 

Why We Help

Managing a rare disease while also maintaining a home and raising a family is a difficult task to accomplish. This is why the Icla da Silva Foundation helps bone marrow or cord blood transplant patients with emotional, logistical, and financial support during their journey.

Our goal is to remove barriers. We help patients manage unexpected challenges so they can focus on their treatment.

Watch Nicole share her story.

Please consider a donation that will support more patients and their families who are going through their journey to receive a bone marrow or cord blood transplant.


Together we will make a difference.

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Icla Cares Helped Darphelia Receive Her Treatment and Transplant


The Icla da Silva Foundation removed another barrier and one more life was saved. The short story below details how we recently helped a patient in need.

Everyone recognizes that gas is expensive, especially now. The cost is particularly high in California.

But what if you didn’t have a choice?

I understand we can’t affect the price of gas, but what if your life depended on a 30-mile car ride to the nearest cancer center? What if you had to take this trip three times per week to receive your life-saving treatment?

This was Darphelia’s barrier.

Due to Multiple Myeloma, a life-threatening disease, Darphelia wasn’t allowed to take public transport or carpool with others.

She certainly couldn’t skip a day and just stay home.

Her illness, and her doctors, had pulled her out of work a while ago. And she had already gone through her retirement savings.

Darphelia told us that this was the first time in her life with no income.

What was she to do?

Icla Cares worked closely with the social worker from UC San Diego Health to get Darphelia the support she needed. We removed her barrier so she could receive repeated, high-dose chemotherapy treatments and then an autologous blood stem cell transplant.

The transplant was successful.

Darphelia is eating again, “eating clean” as she says. She has gained back some energy and is happy just to be able to walk around the block.

Thank you! I can’t say how much I appreciate the help that I received. It’s difficult to judge a situation without having gone through it yourself.” – Darphelia Lowe, Multiple Myeloma Survivor

Thanks to our friends and supporters, we removed one more barrier and another patient received their transplant.

If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation to help us remove barriers to treatment for patients in need.

Your gift matters more than you know.


Thanks for reading.

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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