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.
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.
Written by: Bret Itskowitch
Watch this brief video of Mackenzie sharing her story.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!
Written by: Bret Itskowitch