Pohutakawa Branch Showing New Growth by P. Hutchinson.
Blood and blood product transfusions are often required by cancer patients to replace crucial components of the blood when they are either lost, not being produced in sufficient quantity or at all. When it comes to cancer, this can be due to the disease or the treatment.
Depending on the type, cancer can cause internal bleeding which can lead to anaemia (too few red blood cells). Forms of the disease that start in or spread to the bone marrow (overtaking the normal blood-making cells) and those that affect organs involved in keeping enough cells in the blood, such as the kidneys and spleen, also increase the need for transfusions.
Most cancer treatments and their side effects impact blood producing cells. Blood loss from surgery may require red blood cell or platelet (blood clotting agent) transfusions. Chemotherapy drugs stress cells in the bone marrow to the point where levels of white blood cells and platelets are so low that the patient is at risk for serious infections or bleeding. Likewise, the large doses of radiation (particularly that given to Marrow Transplant patients) destroys the blood-making cells and lowers blood counts.
While there are drugs that can treat anaemia in cancer patients, they pose another set of risks, are expensive and generally don't work very fast. It may take weeks for blood cells to return to normal or, at least, acceptable levels so that treatment can begin. A half hour of your day to donate blood makes a difference.
This is hoping that people who think that they have nothing to give, give the gift of life.
Australian Red Cross
New Zealand Blood Services
Canadian Blood Services
Google Blood Services in your area for local services and donation locations.
The Pohutakawa or Christmas Tree is a New Zealand icon. The painting titled Pohutakawa Branch With New Growth is another courtesy of Paul Hutchinson of Taranaki. I like the symbol of the Pohutakawa for this post because of its well-known ability to maintain its hold in the most precarious of positions (National Heritage Collection) and particularly this painting showing the beautiful, pale green leaves of new growth. Until we can make cancer history, both symbolise what I hope for everyone battling this disease: the ability to hold on and the opportunity for a new beginning free of cancer.