BALTIMORE, Md. — A 29-year-old woman who spends her who life in the kitchen has now put her baking on hold. Elise Smith owns Winnie's Bakery, but she had to close her doors while she waits for treatment.
Smith was diagnosed with Myelodysplatic Syndrome (MDS), a disease similar to leukemia. She got MSD from chemo she had to take while she battled and beat thyroid cancer ten years ago.
"I was good and fine and then last year things went down hill," said Smith. Now, she's in critical need of a stem cell transplant. She said, "with that I could reach cure status again and be good to go."
Smith needs a 100 percent match with her genetic market. The problem is, according to her 'Be the Match' Community Engagement Representative, only three percent of people on the donor list are African Americans and African Americans only have a 23 percent chance of finding a match from the registry.
"If we have more diversity on the registry these patients can have a better change of survival," said Beth Carrion, the Community Engagement Representative for 'Be the Match.'
Carrion explained how the process is not scary like most people think. She said most procedures are less invasive, only removing and then returning blood.
"All clear. Cure. It’s a good word. It feels good when you say it. I can’t wait until I say it again," said Smith. "Until then I’m gonna keep doing what I can as long as I can, even though it exhausts me."
That's exactly what she's doing, baking when she can, and when she's can't bake, she's working on her cookbook.
If you want to help, text 'Team Elise' to 61474. It's free to be a donor and only takes a cheek swab. Carrion explained that only 1 in 430 people typically match.