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Meet Nikki Patterson, of Monumental Properties Group at Samson Properties. Nikki’s nephew, Tyquise “Ty” Brooks, was diagnosed with renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) at the age of 20. At the time, Ty was serving in the Navy and, except for some lingering back pain, he was healthy prior to his diagnosis.

“Ty was treated in the military infirmary for the back pains with normal pain killers and told to rest and take it easy for a few days,” Nikki recalls. “As his pain increased and our family sought additional answers — and after a few additional weeks of appointments, testing, and research by medical professionals — Ty was diagnosed with RMC. Our lives, as we knew them, changed.”

Renal medullary carcinoma, also known as RMC, is an aggressive form of kidney cancer. It typically affects young adults, most often of African descent, and is associated with the sickle cell trait.

Following Ty’s diagnosis, Nikki and her family spent countless hours researching this rare cancer. In their research, they came across RMC, Inc. Through their connection to RMC, Inc., Nikki realized that there were many others across the country searching for similar answers.

“Through this group, I found a doctor and hospital in Texas that had experience in treating this cancer,” Nikki remembers. “Additionally, I learned that the back pains that Ty complained about were early symptoms of the disease that would eventually take his life.”

The National Institute of Health has categorized RMC as an orphan disease. An orphan disease is defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people nationwide.

“Due to the low number of cases, drug companies and government researchers do not have the bandwidth or resources to focus on extensive research and drug development,” Nikki explains. RMC, Inc. aims to educate, advocate, and fundraise to support those affected by the disease and their families.”

While Ty gave his life to the disease, Nikki continues to support RMC, Inc. to raise awareness. She knows that if the public is educated about the warning signs and symptoms, lives will be saved. The familial support that RMC, Inc. provides is another benefit that Nikki hopes to spread to others suffering from RMC.

“There is a need for this alliance due to the rare nature of the cancer and the drug industry and the federal government’s inability to focus resources on the disease,” Nikki says. “The aggressive nature of the cancer, coupled with the often grim prognosis upon discovery, has proven to be extremely burdensome, both emotionally and financially, for the victims and families affected.

“RMC, Inc.’s advocacy and education pieces are extremely important in our quest to bring awareness that eventually leads to research and development of a drug that can help combat the effects,” Nikki says.

Nikki continues to take an active role with RMC, Inc. She supports families with loved ones going through the same thing she did just a few years ago.

“We provide emotional support to families by staying actively involved in the Facebook group, and financial support by donating to the individual families as they seek support on their journey,” Nikki says.

Nikki has a small family, and Ty’s death affected each of them in unique ways. Ty left behind two young children, his mother, two siblings, and a void that will never be filled.

“Experiencing the effect that Tyquise’s death had on our family — especially seeing him leave behind two young children — left a lot of questions in my mind,” Nikki says. “As I learned more about RMC, I realized that, while there was nothing we could’ve done to prevent it, with the right information, there was plenty we could have done to detect it.”

Unfortunately for Ty and his family, they came across RMC, Inc. too late. Yet, Nikki recognizes how vital the advocacy, education, and community connection RMC, Inc. provides is to families in need.

“RMC, Inc. is different from other charities because it serves as an asset and resource to both those suffering and the families affected by the cancer. RMC, Inc. is unique in the fact that it connects those in need with those willing and able to help.”

For more information about renal medullary carcinoma and RMC, Inc., please visit rmcsupport.org.