The Power of Prayer, The Power of Platelets

Has anyone been reading about Ashley’s journey on Lil Blue Boo? I don’t usually get all woo-woo here, but when I read her blog post, I was so happy and excited! I started reading her blog when another crafty blogger linked to her video, and it’s so great to see her cancer responding to treatment. Because I’m a scientist, I have huge faith issues (a whole other story) but I think there’s something to be said about the power of prayer and the power of a whole community focusing their positive energy on a person. It’s a good thing!

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Choose Joy necklace!

Because of all this goodness, I’m going to share something different today.

Now because I am a scientist, one of the things I do fully understand is the power of platelets, even more so because I am a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma researcher at a large cancer hospital in Boston, and so many of our NHL patients require platelets at some point in their treatment. In her post, Ashley mentions that her platelets are low. This is a common side effect of chemotherapy. In the simplest sense (*please remember I am a researcher, not a doctor*), chemotherapy attacks growing cells. It goes after anything that is rapidly dividing. This is great, because chemotherapy can “find” rapidly dividing cells and destroy them, but it also means that it can’t tell the difference between normal cell division, where your body is making new tissue to replace old tissue, and cancer. That’s why people undergoing chemo with certain chemicals lose their hair, and it’s why people become anemic. Some chemotherapy agents are “myelosuppressive” – they slow your bone marrow down, which slows down the production of red blood cells and platelets. Because platelets help your blood clot, having a low platelet count can be very dangerous. For patients undergoing chemotherapy, a simple bump can have serious consequences.

Platelet infusions can make a life-saving difference. That is why I donate at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center every other week.

Chillaxin' While Donating

I don’t want to brag, but I will: I have a kickass platelet count and give a double every time I go. You don’t have to have as high a count as me to donate though 🙂 It’s easy, and it’s actually pretty fun. You get to recline in a warm recliner, get covered with a warm blanket, and watch TV or a movie or read a book. I bring my kindle because I donate fairly quickly. This way I can read, or hook up to the hospital’s WiFi and play Words with Friends or check Facebook.

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Reading a book while donating - this time from the left arm (I switch it up)

The staff is AMAZING. I know people probably think I lie when I say there are people there who put the needle in your arm and you barely feel it, but it’s true. There are also snacks when you’re done. One day, one of the infusion techs brought me a cup filled with Girl Scout cookies from her own stash. It’s awesome. I have also had the chance to meet some New England Patriots:

Punter Zoltan Mesko - ridiculously nice and listened to me blab on about whatever!

And because I have made “Team 20” two years in a row, hubs and I have had the chance to go to Gillette Stadium for a fabulous brunch, where there’s amazing food, a view of the field, and more Patriots:

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Kevin Faulk -also AWESOME and NICE!

I also have a pile of t-shirts, a gym bag, and a huge, fuzzy red towel, just for taking the time to donate. Oh, and once a year I get coupons for ice cream…which I never use because I would eat the whole pint! My point is, if you meet these criteria, get in here and donate. If you don’t live in the Boston metro area, google “donating platelets” and your ZIP code – if there’s a center in your area, it will come up in the search results.

I started donating because I wanted to do something tangible to help the patients on my study. I’m not a physician or a nurse physically treating their cancer, and because I’m a “do-er” it drove me crazy feeling like I wasn’t “DOING” anything (even though our research will save lives!). Donating platelets makes me feel like I’m a part of the force kicking cancer’s ass, and I love it. I didn’t think of it as any benevolent wonderful thing though, until recently, when I told the doctor I work for that I had made my milestone 100th donation. She said “Oh Allison!! Do you have any idea how many people you’ve saved!?!!!” I had never really thought about it until then, but now I do every time I donate. Let me tell you something: It makes me feel so good, like a freakin’ rockstar.

So you should try donating platelets too 🙂

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