Today, I am 15 years old and in 10th grade. At 12 years old I was diagnosed with cancer; shortly before finishing the sixth grade Learning I had T- Lymphoblastic Lymphoma was one of the scariest days of my life. As a 12-year-old, the first thing I thought was that I was going to die. I had no idea that instead, I would continue to learn and grow during this journey.
Over a course of four plus years my understanding of cancer and medical care in general increased a lot. I gladly learned that not all cancers mean death, a ton of medical terms and practices that I hope to one day put to use as a pediatric nurse practitioner. The biggest thing I learned was the need for blood products and how helpful they are to hospital patients, especially those battling cancer.
Blood and Platelets Helped me Feel Better
During my cancer treatments, my blood counts and platelet counts would get very low. Eventually, I was able to tell when I needed to go to the hospital for a red blood transfusion. My face would turn pale and soon after I’d get a headache like I’ve never felt before. The pain was indescribable.
When I needed platelets, I would bruise very easily. There was a time when I accidentally ran into a pole. The next day I had a huge, dark bruise on my shoulder. It scared me when I saw it, but then I remembered what caused the bruise. I knew my platelets had to be low because I wouldn’t normally bruise like that.
When I received blood and platelet transfusions, I would usually need two units of both. The blood transfusion usually took about three hours and platelet transfusion took about two hours. They made me feel better immediately. Once, I had no energy left in my body after receiving my cancer treatments. I needed a blood transfusion badly. After it was over, I slept the whole afternoon. When I woke up, I had so much energy, and was able to attend a concert that same night. That’s how fast the blood products worked! I was so happy because I had been looking forward to going for weeks.
I relied on blood products very often during my fight with cancer. I’d go to the hospital once or twice a week to receive transfusions. During some visits I had to wait a few hours for blood or platelets to become available because the hospital was out. While waiting, I would overhear the nurses talking about how more people needed to donate blood. Sadly, my friends enduring cancer treatments experienced the same things. I knew once I was well that I would do my best to encourage more people to donate blood.
Through Lifesaving Blood my Eyes were Opened
Before I had cancer, I knew about the American Red Cross, but I never realized how this organization saved so many lives through blood products or how much they are truly needed in communities.
I wish I was able to help other patients in need by becoming a blood donor. However, I am not eligible to give because of the type of cancer I had. Instead, I proudly advocate for blood products through my school and community. Blood donations help to save countless lives; including mine.
All that cancer took away from me during my fight – from missed school days, missed conversations with friends and the ability to attend fun events – the Red Cross gave back to me. If I didn’t have blood and platelets during my treatments, I would not be able to lead life as a healthy teen.
I am so grateful to all the people that volunteered their time to donate blood that helped save my life. It doesn’t take much time to give blood. Please make the time and schedule an appointment today!