There’s something you can do to help people with cancer

Today, 14th June 2016, is World Blood Donor day so I wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience of giving and receiving blood.

I began giving blood in 2009. Like many things in life, I hadn’t woken up thinking ‘I’m going to give blood today’. Instead I was on my way to the gym at Bridgend Rec one evening and Give Blood Wales were set up in one of the sports halls. I thought, ‘what the hec’ and decided that giving up a pint of the good stuff was a better use of my time than pounding the treadmill and a great excuse to get out of a workout.

I have continued giving blood as I am blood group B-, one of the most needed groups, it’s a really fulfilling thing to do and it takes no effort at all.

Sadly, after my cancer diagnosis I was told I would no longer be able to give blood. I was really disappointed by this as I felt it was something small I could do that would make a big difference to others. But it wasn’t until I received blood myself that I realised just how much a blood donation means.

My second trip to hospital, after my third course of chemo, was one of the biggest challenges of my cancer treatment. At my weakest, I was given two wholesome bags of healthy B- blood. I can’t explain what a gift this was – I’ve never felt more grateful to a stranger I’ve never met. I felt so much better for having regular blood pumping through my veins and whilst I still felt rotten, I felt the impact even after the first bag of blood.

I felt incredibly emotional receiving the blood, all too aware that someone had taken time out of their day, at their own expense, to give me some of their goodness. I really can’t express how much it meant to me. Without the blood, I would have taken so much longer to recover, costing the NHS more in care.

I know not everyone likes needles and not everyone can give blood but if you can, I really would encourage you to give it a go.

It takes around an hour. Firstly, the team of nurses get you to drink plenty of water before asking you some health questions and checking your blood is rich enough in Iron (they take a tiny sample of blood from your finger tip). You then sit back and relax whilst the blood is taken from your arm, which takes around 10 minutes, before settling down for some sweet treats and a drink before going back to your day.

If you wish there was something you could do to help those with cancer and others in poor health get better, or make things that little bit easier for them, stop wishing and give blood. You can find an appointment here if you’re in England and here in Wales – you’ll be having more of an impact than you know and chances are you’ll save a life.

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