Longtime Donor Receives Blood Products to Defeat Breast Cancer
Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Every two minutes, one person is diagnosed with breast cancer. This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the American Red Cross urges all eligible blood donors to help a breast cancer patient in need by rolling up a sleeve to donate lifesaving blood and platelets.
This year more than 268,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women. Seconds, minutes and days matter when patients are waiting for blood products that help them battle life-threatening illnesses. For those fighting breast cancer, blood products play a pivotal role in recovery from the grueling effects of cancer treatments.
An Advanced Diagnosis Created a Fighter
Myel Bowers-Smith was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer after visiting a doctor for what she thought was a harmless mosquito bite. Her progressive stage of cancer is commonly associated with high mortality rates, but Bowers-Smith had no intentions of giving up. “No-one is ready to die, but 99% of the battle is your attitude. Once I began fighting, I knew I had to remain strong,” said Bowers-Smith.
For five months, she would undergo six rounds of cancer treatments and an invasive double mastectomy. She’d need blood, platelets and plasma to help her recover after chemotherapy, to ensure her blood would clot during surgery, and to provide support for treatment of a persistent infection caused by expanders placed in her chest.
Blood Donor Experiences Effects of Lifesaving Blood
Bowers-Smith had been a blood donor since 1994, after entering basic training for the United States Army, but never needed blood transfusions prior to her cancer diagnosis. “I was doing it because I was in the military and trained to donate blood, but now I really realize that donating blood can save somebody’s life,” assures Bowers-Smith.
After a difficult six-month battle, Bowers-Smith went into remission on February 2017, and has not looked back. “The aftermath was nothing but amazing. My doctor told me I was not the same woman who had come to his office months before, and I was something like a miracle,” said Bowers-Smith. “I was more than excited, because I survived. I won and it was time to get my life back!”
Platelets are Needed Now
Right now, the American Red Cross has an emergency need for platelets. They have a shelf life of only five days and are used to help prevent infections and bleeding in cancer patients.
Schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.
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 (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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 RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.