As the drive began at 8 a.m., Senior Finance Specialist Kelley Foster was one of the first in line. Although Foster has been a blood donor for 16 years, this time her donation was special - she was celebrating being one-year cancer-free.
In November 2011, Foster experienced extensive pain similar to a severe bladder infection or a kidney stone. A CT scan of Foster’s kidneys revealed not only kidney stones, but a grapefruit-sized cancerous tumor as well.
“I have a tremendous amount of faith,” she said. “I knew God would get me through this experience.”
Within a month, Foster underwent surgery at Franciscan St. Francis Health in the former Beech Grove hospital. The surgery was successful and the tumor was fully removed. Since the cancer had not spread, there was no need for chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
But Foster, an avid blood donor, did get a piece of news she hadn’t planned on: individuals with cancer cannot donate blood until they have been cancer-free or treatment-free for a full year.
“When they told me I couldn’t give blood, it really bothered me,” she said.
Foster had learned through her many years of donations that her A negative blood type is rare. According to the Indiana Blood Center, only 6 percent of the population has A negative blood. Blood is categorized in four main groups: A, B, AB, and O. The groups are based on the presence or absence of A and B antigens, which help produce antibodies that fight bacteria and viruses. Each blood type is also called “positive” or “negative” depending on whether or not the blood contains another antigen called Rh.
Foster remained healthy during the rest of 2012. When she heard about the December blood drive occurring on the first day she was eligible to donate again, she was thrilled and signed up for the first time slot.
“Emotionally, cancer makes you a completely different person,” she said. “You have to find ways to give back. Giving blood is one way to do it. Consider it your small way of paying forward all you have been blessed with.”
Foster plans to donate blood at every opportunity, and she’ll be the first to sign up for the “I Pledge” campaign for the Indiana Blood Center. In 2013, Franciscan St. Francis Health employees have the opportunity to make a difference by pledging to donate blood at least once during a 2013 hospital drive.
“I pledge to raise my sleeve in 2013 because I am grateful for my life, and I want to extend that gift to others,” she said.
Employees interested in pledging can do so during “I Pledge Week” February 4 to 10. Individuals who pledge in person will receive a free pen and a pledge reminder card, and everyone who pledges will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card. The I Pledge booth will be available on the following dates and times:
Feb. 4: 7 to 9 a.m., Indianapolis Campus outside the Terrace Café
Feb. 5: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Indianapolis Campus outside the Terrace Café
Feb. 6: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Education and Support Services Center Breakroom
Feb. 7: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Indianapolis Campus outside the Terrace Café
Feb. 7: 1 to 5 p.m., Mooresville Campus in the Swisher Conference Center
Online Pledges Feb 4-10: Email Sarah.Richardson@franciscanalliance.org with the subject line “I Pledge” and include your phone number and campus (please note online pledges will not receive a pen)
Eight blood drives will be held throughout 2013 at the Indianapolis and Mooresville campus, as well as at the Education and Support Services Center. For dates and times, please check Morning Messenger and CROSS. Everyone is welcome to donate at any blood drive, regardless of if they made a pledge to donate.
More information is available by contacting Sarah Richardson, marketing and community relations specialist, at Sarah.Richardson@franciscanalliance.org or (317) 528-7980.