My best friend had cancer and this is what I learned

My best friend had cancer and this is what I learned

bloodI was a senior in high school the first time I participated in a blood drive.  I was one of the “older” kids in my grade, so being 18 years old meant I was eligible for blood donation.  At the time, it was a great excuse to get out of class and kill time while nursing my serious case of senioritis.

Over the years I have donated here and there, if it was convenient for me and I had the time. Now, I make it a point to donate as often as I can (and I have recruited my husband).

I never thought I would be invested in donating blood until the benefits really hit close to home. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer last year.  It was a shock (still feels like a shock) and long story short; she’s 100% cancer free now.

When I learned about her diagnosis, I went into total mama bear mode. Most of my besties live at least an eight hour drive away, but I still wanted to know what was going on.  I was in frequent contact with my BFF, her husband and I would often get in touch with her sister to check in too (when I felt like I might be annoying my bestie and her hubby).  I researched the type of cancer she had, the recommended course of chemo treatment, and I peppered a hematologist/oncologist at my hospital with questions about what I can do (from far away).  I wrote down her chemo schedule in my calendar, so I knew which round she was on and what was coming up next.  I even sent a “cancer care package” of sorts, which consisted of me and one of my babies driving in for a weekend of TLC.  This included lots of baking and making my requisite comfort food in the form of roasted chicken and challah for Shabbat (yum).

My trip was planned around her fifth round of chemo and I had heard she was feeling pretty run down. The day I arrived, she had received a blood transfusion to help her get some energy and feel a bit better.  As I drove through the night, I was bracing myself for a bed-ridden, weak, sickly friend who needed help getting on and off the couch.  Instead, I found my friend feeling energetic, happy, revived, renewed and not “cancery” at all (well, minus the bald head, which she TOTALLY rocked).  She said everyone commented how during her blood transfusion they could even see color come back to her lips.  The blood transfusion was tremendous.

Up until then, when I donated blood, I didn’t think about blood going to a young mom battling cancer, but there you are. My girlfriend lamented she will never be able to give blood because of her exposure to chemotherapy.  She’s bummed about this because she would like to give back knowing what a difference it made for her.  SO, now I always make a point to donate because I know what a huge impact it can have on someone’s life.  I donate in honor of my best friend and I donate because it’s just the right thing to do.

Please consider donating blood. You can find your local Red Cross here.

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