Rachel Robinson has launched a GoFundMe to support Ayanna Mackins, her friend and former cast member from The Challenge, following the news that Ayanna was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
(Longtime fans of the The Real World/Road Rules franchise first met Ayanna in 1999 on MTV’s Road Rules: Semester at Sea. She went on to compete on four seasons of ‘The Challenge,’ including All Stars 2, on which she was a finalist.)
According to People, Ayanna was diagnosed with metastatic invasive ductal carcinoma in October, though she has only opened up about her journey a few times on social media– one of those times being Saturday.
“I figured I’d just jump right in, I’ve been struggling with how to talk about this on social media, but the silence is what kills us,” she said in a video posted to Instagram. “I’m one of the one-in-eight women that is diagnosed with breast cancer and I’m working through it and listening to the recommendations and reviewing all the materials and information while simultaneously going through chemo and planning for surgery and taking care of my children and being an advocate in my community and being surrounded by loving, caring family and friends.
“So, thank you for your patience and I’ll get it together,” she concluded her Instagram Story, along with a “work in progress” graphic.
The following day, Rachel–- who competed alongside Ayanna on The Challenge: Battle of the Sexes 2–- posted videos to her Instagram Story, revealing that she had launched a GoFundMe on Ayanna’s behalf.
“I know Ayanna can use the help,” she said. “For those of you who do not know, Ayanna is a member of the MTV family. She is fighting cancer. She is a single mother of four.”
In the description for the online fundraiser, Ayanna shared that she received her diagnosis in October following a mammogram and subsequent biopsy. She also shared that she did genetic testing at the time, through which she learned she is a “carrier of a Palb2 mutation on my BRCA gene,” which she said increases a person’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
“By the time I learned of my status, [the cancer] had metastasized to several lymph nodes; being a mom of four my life immediately shifted toward managing fighting this disease,” she continued. “Testing, multiple biopsies, consultations all coincided with managing the lives of my children and adapting to chemo, sleepless nights, weakened immune system, and truly fighting with my closest co-workers, extended family and friends.”
It was also noted in the description that due to her “slow reaction and response time,” Ayanna is unable to drive at this time, leaving her and her children to rely on ride shares and other services for transportation.
“Any support received with go directly to covering housing expenses and caregiver costs while I am hospitalized,” Ayanna wrote. “This is a marathon not a sprint, thank you for fighting the fight with us.”
In an Instagram post from December, Ayanna had promised to talk about her cancer diagnosis “soon,” telling followers she was “in good spirits most days” and thanking those who had reached out with advice and words of support.
In the same post, she reflected on her mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 2000.
“ … And here I am with the diagnosis…at the exact same age as she, in a similar position; triggered and trudging through the mud of it all,” she wrote. “The support I have is amazing. I have a strong community of friends and extended family, a great job, and great insurance.
“The science is 24 years ahead of where it once was and is substantially different,” she continued. “Many aspects of treatment still have mountains of research needed for change. My mom and I are on the same chemo medication. Was wild hearing the name of it for the first time in 24 years associated now with me.”
As of press time, Rachel’s GoFundMe has raised over $15,000 for Ayanna. ‘Challenge’ vets such as Tina Barta Bridges, Veronica Portillo, Laurel Stucky, Kam Williams and Nurys Mateo have all made sizable donations so far.
Click here to donate to the fundraiser for Ayanna.
(Photos: MTV; Instagram; GoFundMe)