Dear friends and family,
Thank you for visiting my One-to-One Fund.
the Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation’s One-to-One Funds are designed to support patients through this difficult transplant journey. Thank you in advance for your support. All gifts are tax deductible.
At 58 years old, my mom has stood her ground against the test of time. My mother, Muzinga Mungongo, was born the 10th but only child amongst all of her siblings, with the debilitating and excruciatingly painful Sickle Cell Disease. This painful blood disorder is when normal oval blood cells deform and “sickle” clog blood vessels which causes pain and possible multiple organ failure.
Without a doubt, my mom is the strongest person I know. Losing both parents at an early age in the African country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, she was raised by her older sister who taught her the importance of education. She used to repeat to her: “You are someone who is always sick, you may not get married, you may never have kids, so you have no other options but to use the best tool for survival, which is your brain.”
Throughout years of grade school, college and finally veterinary school, my mom had endured days of being prodded and poked, weeks of hospitalizations and a lifetime of unpredictable chronic body pain. Notwithstanding this, she still managed to become one of the few female veterinarians in the DR Congo at that time.
A few years later, she would find the love of her life, my father. They would start a family and then decide to pursue better opportunities in this lovely country, the United States of America. But shockingly, on a dreadful day, the day after Thanksgiving in 1998, my father went to work and never came back. He was found dead on the floor of his work gym from a sudden heart attack while working out. They had only been married for 9 years.
Being a true fighter, my mom picked up the pieces, put herself through nursing school and became a nurse. She worked at a few locations but never shared her medical condition for fear that it would make others see her as weak, which she despised. Ultimately, her nursing career would be cut prematurely, as a result of Sickle Cell complications which rendered her unable to perform daily tasks.
And still, amidst all of this, my mom has never given up her fighting spirit. Against all of the odds and the tribulations she faced in her personal, work, and family life, she manages to keep a smile on her face and forces us to look for positives in all situations. What gets her going above all is helping others and giving back, whether this involves animals or people. And this is why she loves the healthcare field and hopes to return to work in it one day.
When we heard that the University Hospital at Cleveland Medical Center was just approved to perform Bone Marrow Transplants of Sickle Cell afflicted adults, we were optimistic. And when we found out that mom was considered a good candidate, we had a glimmer of hope. Furthermore, when we learned that out of her 5 remaining siblings, one of her sisters was a perfect donor match, we were ecstatic.
However, we are also worried. Worried of what will happen since this is a clinical trial. She will be the very first adult patient and there are risks. Worried of how we are going to financially and mentally get through the procedure. Will we be able to handle the outpatient expenses as well as the regular daily life expenses? The truth is insurance will only cover the inpatient surgery portion, leaving us to deal with the outpatient part which could last up to a year.
My mom has always said, “I still remember when everyone thought that I could never have kids and look at you guys now. Nothing is impossible” My mom never wants me to complain about my life but just be thankful that we, her kids, are all healthy in mind, body and spirit.
For me to gain the courage to humbly ask for donations almost feels awkward but when I think of my mom, my late father, my two younger autistic siblings, my extended family in a third world country in Africa, I owe them at least to try. So please, whether it is donating and/or merely spreading this campaign to friends and acquaintances , my family and I would be forever grateful.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my mom’s story and hopefully one day soon, with your help, she can live life crisis and pain free, play with the grandchildren she hopes to have, and get back to doing what is in her heart: helping others.