How a cancer diagnosis turned a mother into a lifesaver
After learning her baby boy had cancer, Candice felt powerless, but she found hope in blood donation.
On the 1st of April 2022, Candice received the news every parent dreads, her baby boy River, was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. At only 2 and a half years old, River had a long battle ahead of him and there was nothing Candice could do to make it better. She felt powerless, but she found hope in an unexpected place – blood donation.
Like most Australians, Candice knew donating blood could save lives, but she always figured the recipients were car crash victims or someone who’d lost a lot of blood in an accident. This all changed after River received his diagnosis. Candice recalls sitting with River as he received the first of what would be dozens of blood transfusions. “We were in shock at how much blood was required during River’s treatment... we saw how much blood and platelets he needed, and then how his energy and colour returned after each transfusion. We could physically see the difference it made.” It didn’t take long for Candice to realise that the blood needed for car accidents paled in comparison to the blood required for cancer patients.
Every year, around a third of all donated red blood cells and nearly two thirds of all platelets go towards cancer treatment. For patients like River, who are living with a blood cancer, the demand can be even higher, with some patients requiring 18 donations per month during treatment.
“People don’t understand how critical blood is. More awareness is desperately needed and hopefully by sharing River’s story, it will help.”
For many parents, knowing their child’s life relied on the selflessness of complete strangers could be a source of anxiety, but Candice and her friends and family saw things differently. They all wanted to help, and if giving blood was one way they could make a difference, they were ready to roll up their sleeves. It was Candice’s sister Kristy who first had the idea to setup a Lifeblood Team. They settled on the name #TEAMRIVER and started recruiting friends and family. Pretty soon they had a regular gang giving blood – not just for River, but for every cancer patient as well as the countless friends and family member who support them
Candice was grateful for every life-saving transfusion River received
Nine months later, River is now in remission and well on the road to recovery, but #TEAMRIVER is only just getting started. While Candice and her family set up the Lifeblood Team as a way to support River, they now recognise it has a bigger role to play in raising awareness for childhood Leukaemia and the importance of blood donation. The way Candice sees it, “People don’t understand how critical blood is. More awareness is desperately needed and hopefully by sharing River’s story, it will help.”
If you’re looking for a way to show your support for a loved one with cancer or just want to help people like River, giving blood is one of the easiest things you can do. You can book a donation as an individual or make your own version of #TEAMRIVER at Lifeblood Teams. Whatever you choose, you can be assured that the blood you give is life-saving!