More than 4.5 million patients need a blood transfusion each year in the U.S. and Canada. I was one of those patients only a few months ago, right in the middle of the pandemic.
My chemotherapy prescription was strong and very aggressive due to the type of cancer I was diagnosed with (triple negative breast cancer) the chemo was weakening me as I completed each round. Most days it was a struggle to walk up the stairs or even to the bathroom that was only a few steps away from my bed.
Each week I would go in for blood work 3 hours before my chemotherapy appointment, they would check my white blood cell count and verify that I was healthy and strong enough to have the chemotherapy to kill the bitch called cancer. Chemotherapy affects blood cells in the bone marrow and can cause low blood cell counts.
On August 27th, 2020 I arrived as usual at BC Cancer and had my blood drawn, went to breakfast with my partner, Jake, and then we sat in the waiting room of the chemotherapy unit working away on our laptops. But this time after the nurse called my name it wasn't followed up with the room number I needed to be in, instead she came towards me in the waiting area sat beside me and said " you're too weak to receive treatment today".
Tears filled my eyes instantly, the nurse was kind and tried to comfort me, telling me they would try again next week. I wanted out of that room, I wanted to be alone, I wanted to scream and cry. Anyone that has went through chemotherapy knows that missing a treatment can feel like you've been kicked in the teeth, that treatment will most likely be extended and it's time for a blood transfusion.
3,000 pints: the amount of donated blood used each day in the U.S. and Canada. I was given 2 pints over a 8 hour period, it's a very slow procedure. I was petrified about my blood transfusion, the entire concept weirded me out; having someone else's blood inside of me. As odd as it may sound I often think about who's blood I was given and how they saved my life; did they even know or ever think about how much their blood donation truly meant to all us recipients? Mortality was real and it changes your sense of normalcy.
Someone needs blood every two seconds. In less than 48 hours of receiving my blood transfusion I instantly felt better. I was no longer out of breath after a few steps, I could get out of bed much easier and walking to the bathroom no longer seemed like a marathon. I encourage all of you that are healthy and well, please donate blood. Saving someone's life is the best gift you can give. It's amazing to think that all of us are born with something that makes us actual superheroes. Donate today.