June 4 is National Cancer Survivor Day, a celebration for those who have survived cancer, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed and an expression of support for those impacted by cancer every day. With strength and passion, Cindy Stiffler of Madison, Wisconsin not only won her battle with cancer, but she has dedicated her life to giving back to others impacted by the disease by giving time and blood with the American Red Cross.
In 2018, Cindy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through her journey with the disease, she endured chemotherapy, radiation, multiple surgeries and she required blood and platelet transfusions. Once during her recovery, she had to wait for blood because the right products for her were not available. The Red Cross worked quickly to locate the blood she needed in another state and had it transported to her treating hospital for her transfusion.
Long before she received blood as a patient, Cindy became a dedicated blood donor. She started giving blood in college and has been a loyal blood donor ever since. Her journey with cancer paused her donations, but now she thrilled to be donating again. So far, she has given more than 20 donations. Her dedication was only strengthened when her husband, Mark, survived his own battle with cancer in 2017. Now she and Mark both give blood regularly in honor of the many people fighting cancer.
Cindy’s desire to help others doesn’t stop at being a blood donor. In 2013, she started volunteering at Red Cross blood drives, helping blood donors through the donation process for the past 11 years. When asked about what drives her passion, she said she respects the mission of the Red Cross and enjoys how easy and meaningful it is to help. She likes volunteering at blood drives because she knows she has a direct impact on someone’s life.
Cindy’s passion for the Red Cross started early in life. She remembers seeing the Red Cross at work when a friend's house caught on fire. “The Red Cross’ disaster team was on the ground instantly providing my friend’s family with comfort, care and essential needs,” said Cindy. “It’s a comfort knowing that the Red Cross is always there. It’s good people doing good work.”
Each year, approximately one quarter of the blood supply is used to help treat patients with cancer. Cindy is thankful she was able to beat her cancer, and on National Cancer Survivors Day she is thankful for the blood donors who helped make her treatment possible.
Cindy encourages others to join her in supporting those with cancer by becoming a blood donor. “Donating is a good thing to do,” said Cindy. “You never know when you’ll be on the other side needing blood. I have O negative blood and I know how important that is to share with others.”
A cancer survivor's ability to donate blood is determined on individual factors, including by the type of cancer and the type of treatment received. For eligibility requirements please visit RedCrossBlood.org.
About blood donation
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that 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 must meet certain height and weight requirements. Those interested in donating can find a drive and schedule an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.