ROCHESTER, Minn. - A mother battling cancer and her daughter are telling their story to raise awareness about bone marrow transplants and the power of becoming a donor.
You would never know Cyndi Nardiello was sick by looking at her. The mother of two was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia back in March. In May, she uprooted her life to get treatment at Mayo Clinic.
"I really didn't think I had a shot at life and they told me when I arrived at Mayo this is not a death sentence," Nardiello said. "They told me I can do this; I can beat this. They've given me a lot of positive reinforcement."
Support from family and friends helped Cyndi fight. Doctors treated her with chemotherapy. Once she was in remission, they thought a bone marrow transplant would be her next best chance.
Besides being considered a good candidate for a transplant, there's the task of finding a donor.
"I think that we can find a donor now for almost everyone, especially having this option of using half-matched family members," Dr. Mark Litzow, a hematologist at Mayo Clinic, said.
There was no sibling option. The National Marrow Donor Program didn't have a good match for Cyndi either. That's where her daughter Elyse comes in.
"They told me it would be really difficult, that they have to go through this database," Cyndi said. "It just worked out to a miracle that Elyse was so close to me, so it seems like we have a pretty good chance and a good success rate being a match from a daughter."
Elyse Rylatt had a feeling she could help her mom.
"I was like 'ask the doctors if I can be a match!' They were like just wait; we're going to look through the database of over 25 million people," Rylatt explained. "The highest match was someone from Germany with only 43-percent. I still beat him and I'm a better match than this random person. I'm glad they could test me and it took about two months to officially find out and now we're doing it."
The transplant happened Thursday, Sept. 30.
Dr. Litzow said it will take a few weeks before Elyse's healthy blood cells get to work in Cyndi's system. That's why they're monitoring Cyndi closely through outpatient care.
Cyndi comes to the hospital every day to be seen, and has learned a lot on her journey.
"You really stop and wake up and appreciate every minute of your life," Nardiello said.
Cyndi and Elyse tell KIMT News 3 they're now a part of research studies to help other people who will go through what they've gone through.
The family has a GoFundMe page if you'd like to help them cover the costs of medical treatment.
If you'd like to learn more about becoming a bone marrow donor, click here.