Saturday, December 1, 2012

Can I Help Save a Life? - Week 48



In September, I found out my good friend from high school, Catherine, died of ovarian cancer.  She didn’t die recently. I found out recently. She died 10 years ago.

When I learned of her death, I mourned as if it just happened. The last time we saw each other was our high school reunion in 1997. 

Now, Kids, we didn’t have Facebook back then. Typing messages on a device that you carried with you in your pocket was “space age”. If you wanted to keep in touch with someone, you used a telephone in your house and spoke to the person on the other end. Or took time to put a note in a mailbox. With a stamp. 

I’m saying that keeping in touch took effort.

With the advent of Facebook, I searched for Catherine online but never found her. I wasn’t concerned. I have lots of anti-social media friends. I just assumed she was out there. Somewhere.

Through a random online comment, I learned of Catherine’s passing. I contacted her sisters (again, thank you Facebook), and they told me her story. I curse myself for not staying in touch with my friend - even the old fashioned way.

There's beautiful Cath - on the right.
Oh, to be young and in my 20's again...


Most of you also know that my good friend, Teresa, passed away from lung cancer last month. We lived far apart but with email and Facebook, it still felt as if we lived in the same town. Now I wished I would have made an effort to see her in person last year. 

I don't think I will ever stop missing her.

I couldn’t help save Catherine or Teresa. But can I help save others?

My friend, Tara, contact me 2 weeks ago asking if I’d like to donate platelets with her. I’d donated blood before, but I had no knowledge of platelet apheresis. 

Tara explained the process. We’d go to our local American Red Cross where I’d be hooked up to one needle with 3 tubes. The blood comes out of my body, into a machine that spins the blood to get the platelets out, and then the blood goes back into my body with a saline solution. The process takes about 2 hours.

Gross.
This is what it looked like.
Again, gross.

Seriously, I have a tough time giving blood. I do it because I know it helps people and it only takes 20 minutes of being uncomfortable. But 2 hours hooked to a needle?  I shuddered. This was WAY out of my comfort zone. Which was why I had to do it.

Tara called me the day before our scheduled donation. “They won’t let me give!”  The scheduler told her that she was denied to give platelets at that time.

Tara apologized profusely. “It’s not your fault,” I assured her. Immediately I believed I was off the hook, too. If my friend wasn’t going, surely I wasn’t expected to go alone.

Wait. Does that even make sense?

Unfortunately, no. Though nervous about a tube pulling blood out of my body only to return it minutes later, knowing full well that blood is not really supposed to be leaving my body - I couldn’t back out just because my friend wasn’t going. Dang.

Here is the room where I'd spend my morning.

I arrived at the blood bank for my 7:15 a.m. appointment. After an hour of pre-draw interviewing and paperwork, my nurse started a movie for me (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and started pricking my vein. 

My personal theater

Thank God for the distraction of the film. The whirring of the platelet-sucking machine (I’m sure that’s the scientific name)  and the sensation of blood and saline returning to my arm would have made me nauseous had my eyes not been glued to the screen. 

When the movie ended, the nurse informed me I had about 15 minutes left. Luckily, I brought my Kindle. I really need my diversions.

After the maximum amount of platelets were in the bag hanging behind my bed, the machine shut off. In about 45 seconds, my nurse removed the needle, helped me to my feet, and sent me off for a glass of orange juice in the waiting room.

That was it. The event I was so apprehensive to experience without my friend by my side was as easy as watching a movie and drinking some juice. I wasn’t even lightheaded like I usually feel after giving a pint of blood. 

I realize my small amount of platelets didn’t get to my friends Catherine or Teresa. But I pray that they help prolong a life to a special someone somewhere else.

My friend Suzy prays over her son who fights leukemia. He starts another round of chemotherapy this weekend. He won’t get my platelets either, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to help him.  A whole team has been created to support this 7th grade hero. Many friends set-up fundraisers to help defray medical costs. Most take place in the family’s town, but there is one we can all participate in. 

Personalized Free creates cute Christmas ornaments customized for your favorite recipient. Scott and Wendy Simonsen (owners) are donating 20% of every purchase to Suzy’s son if you enter COLTON for the Promo Code. 



Buying an ornament may seem like a small gesture and we know it won’t make the leukemia go away. But it will help pay for the expenses of the professionals who are doing everything in their power to save this young man. 

I hate that cancer devastates the lives of those I love. I recognize there is a Miracle Worker and I’m not Him. But if I can give my platelets, buy an ornament, and spend a ton of hours in prayer - at least I feel like I’m doing something to help save a life.

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2 comments:

  1. Feeling Blessed all over againDecember 1, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Thank you. My beautiful 8th grade daughter who is testing for Jesuit today (praying she gets in), plays classic soccer, runs cross country, and is a 4.0 student, would not be here without people giving blood and platelets. She is a leukemia survivor (in remission for several years now), and has had many transfusions. I am crying as I write this - please understand how big that donation is. It LITERALLY saves lives.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear "Blessed",
    Your comment touches my heart to the deepest level. I needed to hear your message. I am praying for your daughter today. Please let me know if Jesuit will be the place for her!

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear from you! No nasty comments or bad language, though. That would just be mean.