WASHINGTON – Patients fighting cancer need more blood than patients fighting any other disease, using nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply. That’s why this February, the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society have teamed up to encourage people across the country to “Give Blood to Give Time,” ensuring loved ones have the strength and support to battle cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. An estimated 172,040 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in California this year. Many of these people will likely have a need for blood.
“A loved one’s cancer diagnosis often makes families and friends feel helpless. That’s why the Give Blood to Give Time partnership with the American Cancer Society is so important,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the American Red Cross, said. “When someone donates blood or platelets or makes a financial gift, they are helping to give patients and their families time, resources and the hope they need to fight back.”
To schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment or make a financial gift, visit www.GiveBloodToGiveTime.org.
Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing red blood cell and platelet production. Other times, the cancer itself or surgical procedures cause the problem. Blood products are often needed. In fact, five units of blood are needed every minute to help someone going through cancer treatment. Yet only 3% of people in the United States give blood. More people are needed to donate regularly to help meet the need.
“The need for blood in cancer treatments is an important and untold story,” Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society, said. “The American Cancer Society is excited to be working with the Red Cross on Give Blood to Give Time. Through this partnership, we want people to know there are multiple ways they can help and make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and their families.”
Individuals can honor their loved ones by making a blood donation appointment or financial contribution at www.GiveBloodToGiveTime.org.
In April 2015, Stephenie Perry was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma exactly 10 days before her commencement ceremony from graduate school. One week after commencement, treatments began. During chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants, she needed blood and platelet transfusions.
“I don’t even know how many units of blood I’ve received,” she said. “But I know all of that blood came from selfless individuals who made the decision to make an appointment and donate.”
Last February, Perry received the good news that her cancer is in remission. The next day, her then-boyfriend, Justin Perry, proposed to her – just in time for Valentine’s Day. They talked about marriage while she battled cancer, but they wanted to wait until she was in remission. Justin Perry said he didn’t want to go another day without asking her to marry him. They were married in September.
Her red blood cell counts still get low at times. When that happens, she goes in for another blood transfusion.
“I think it’s safe to say that my successful battle with cancer depended upon complete strangers and their donated blood. For this, I am grateful,” Perry said. “Sometimes I hear stories from friends about people who are scared of needles or afraid to donate blood. I wish I could stand face-to-face with those people and tell them there is nothing scary about saving a life – a life like mine.”
How to donate blood
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at www.RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the blood donor app.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit www.redcross.org or www.cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit them on Twitter at @RedCross.
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7 year-round live help line, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information, visit www.cancer.org.