By Jasminee Sahoye
A 25-year-old mother of two, from Ajax is fighting for her life and a result of severe Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and she needs a stem cell donor to survive.
Candice, who is mixed with Trinidad and Tobago heritage was first diagnosed with ALL when she was 13 years old. After many years of treatment that involved numerous blood transfusions, she relapsed in October 2010. Two more relapses in 2011 and 2012 followed. Now, a stem cell transplant is the only chance for Candice to return to a healthy life with her family.
Her story has inspired the Durham/Oshawa community to help her and nearly 1,000 other Canadians in need of stem cell transplants. Because of her African Canadian descent, Candice’s donor is likely to come from the Black community; more diverse donors are needed to come forward.
“Stem cells from young and male donors are optimal for patients like Candice because they can have better post- transplant results and fewer chances of complications,” says OneMatch Donor Management Coordinator Hailu Mulatu.
“Patients are most likely to find their matching donor with someone of similar ethnic background. This is why more ethnically diverse donors are needed to register with OneMatch.”
Last Sunday, Candice’s family and OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network held a swab event to register new stem cell donors. A blood typing session was also be held. But according to one of the organizer, the turn out was “not good.”
Toronto Argonauts’ Matt Black and Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Ryan Hinds are role models for many young men, especially in the Black community, and they supported to the event.
“Knowing that young men are most likely to help patients like Candice, I wanted to get involved,” says Matt. “Guys, we have the power to change the lives of many families with a simple cheek swab,” adds Ryan.
Meanwhile, this Saturday, June 1, the Canadian Blood Services Oshawa clinic is hosting a blood donor clinic in honour of Candice.
Similar clinics will be held on June 22 at Jane/Finch Mall between 12:00 Noon and 3:00 p.m and June 23 at Rhema Christian Ministries from 9:00 am – 2:00 p.m, Toronto.