Celebrate Black History Month with NBDF!
This year we will share stories from the Black community within the bleeding disorders community. These individuals are truly an inspiration to the entire inheritable blood and bleeding disorders community. We hope that you take the time to read their stores and that their courage is an inspiration to you!
This Black History Month, NBDF recognizes a doctor who serves the inheritable blood and bleeding disorders community through patient care and advocacy. He is an inspiration to his peers, patients, and the African American community. His innovative spirit has been a beacon of light for many of his patients, and his advocacy continues to drive the needle forward toward providing this community with quality healthcare.
Chancellor Donald, M.D., serves as the chief medical officer of the Taking Aim at Cancer in Louisiana initiative. He is also an assistant professor of Clinical Medicine at Tulane University and the UMCNO Tulane Cancer Management and Oncology Services medical director. His academic focus is advocacy and health disparities for patients with hematologic disorders and malignancies.
He spent his earlier professional years being an innovator and providing new programs for cancer patients in a rural area of Louisiana, where only two other cancer care centers reside.
As medical director at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, Donald developed an annual lung cancer screening program using low-dose CT scans for 40 patients yearly at no cost to the patient. In 2013, he was given the Spirit of Hope Award by the American Cancer Society for initiating this program.
According to Donald courage continues to be the driving force in his good works.
“I am convinced that courage is the most important of all virtues,” he says. As he references the great Maya Angelou, “Because, without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind for a while, generous for a while, merciful for a while, and even loving for a while. But it is only with courage that you can be persistently kind, generous, and fair.”
Most recently, Donald received multiple accolades for his persistent healthcare advocacy efforts. The year 2022 was a phenomenal year for him as he was nationally recognized for multiple awards.
In 2022, he was recognized as one of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO’s) 2022 Advocacy Champions! This recognition is a result of his tireless advocacy efforts throughout 2022. His dedication to advocating by engaging lawmakers ensures patients have access to high-quality cancer care.
Dr. Donald has been listed as an Advocacy Champion at the Speaker's Club level on ASCO’s list of 2022 honorees. This recognition is on behalf of ASCO's Government Relations Committee and ASCO’s Policy and Advocacy Staff.
Additionally, he was honored by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) with the 2022 Exemplary Service Award.
This award specifically recognizes Dr. Donald and his peers for their “extensive contributions to the COVID-19 content curation group to ensure that the hematology community had access to the most trustworthy and up-to-date resources in the rapidly evolving pandemic environment.”
Donald has been in the medical field since 2006, he has persevered through various pivotal moments within healthcare, including the 2020 pandemic as the community he served was in one of its most vulnerable states.
During a time when we saw physician burnout reach its highest peak, Donald continued to advocate and serve. Furthermore, revealing his dedication and passion for this community, as he explains his sustained passion is, simply because his dedication to serve “the quote that reveals my passion for medicine was best said by Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.””
Furthermore, to top off his many accomplishments of 2022 he was recognized as a Top Doctors of New Orleans.
Donald said he approaches equitable and just care with these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in mind:
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
We thank Donald for his courage and relentless effort to advocate for patients across this country.
Meeyana Richard is a long-standing patient at the Louisiana Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders (LCBCD), who was diagnosed with Von Willebrand Disease type 1. In 2021, she became a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse, and she took the time to share with us her experience of being a college nursing student while managing her bleeding disorder away from home; and why her experience with the LCBCD staff led to her career pursuit to be a nurse.
How were you able to attend college while managing your bleeding disorder and a demanding major?
I decided to attend McNeese State University and chose nursing as my major, and I loved it. I chose a nursing major because I wanted to have a first-hand relationship with patients. Moving away from home with a bleeding disorder is challenging, but the LCBCD team prepared me by educating me on self-infusion, which allowed me to administer my medicine to myself while away at school. The pharmacy would also send my medicine to me at school. My entire college experience was rewarding.
What were your plans for graduation?
I applied to Our Lady of Lourdes for many months and continued to be denied for months, but I refused to give up on my dream job. Finally, I got the call and was hired as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This was my dream specialty, and I continue to gain experience and perfect my nursing skills. Also, I plan to go back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner.
What would be your advice to teens with bleeding disorders who may be interested in leaving their hometowns to go away for college?
It can be scary to be so independent and not have mom or dad around to do everything for you. But it’s okay because everyone is just a phone call away. As far as managing your bleeding disorder, be prepared, and stay prepared, and stay in contact with your doctors, nurses, and social workers. Call your pharmacy to make sure you have your supplies and prescriptions ahead of time if possible. Know where the nearest ER is located. And although college is fun, remember that you have a bleeding disorder, and you may not be able to do what everyone else is doing; so be safe.
How did you connect with the Louisiana Center for Bleeding and Clotting disorders?
I was 2 years old, and my sister was a few months old when she began having bad nose bleeds and a doctor tested her to see if she had a bleeding disorder, and she did. Then, my mother and I were tested, and those tests resulted in us having bleeding disorders. That’s when we got in contact with the LCBCD team including Dr. Leissinger and nurse Jackie Thompson. The staff has been so helpful in educating us on how to self-infuse. We enjoyed and learned so much from the summer camps. The staff is like our family now, we love them, and they love us.
Meeyana credits her success with managing her bleeding disorder to the LCBCD medical staff for educating her through the years in order to develop a plan to manage her health independently. She also knew that she could always call her nurse or social worker if medical issues arose.
Meeyana took a leap of faith and took control of her bleeding disorder so that she could follow her dream of becoming a nurse. We hope that Meeyana’s courage and strong will to prioritize her health so that she could live the life she wanted, will inspire many others to do the same.