By Kathryn Berthiaume, LMHC, Team Coordinator for CHD’s Appleton Street Location
Twenty years ago, I was getting ready to graduate from high school. I was preparing for my speech, thinking about a future that was so inconceivable to me. What was I going to say to my peers, my parents, friends in the community?
I wasn’t going to college like I had always planned. I wasn’t going to any graduation parties. I was going to the hospital for biopsies, tests, and chemotherapy. I had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer, just a few weeks before graduation. I was still in disbelief about what that meant for my life, my future, and my family.
Somehow I persevered through high school graduation in a haze and started treatment. I was hospitalized every three to four weeks for a week at a time in the adolescent wing at Baystate Medical Center where I received my chemotherapy. I left the hospital after each treatment extremely lethargic, weak, and barely able to eat. It was in between treatments where I faced the highest risk. My “counts” were monitored very closely and oftentimes my white blood and red blood cell counts were dangerously low. At that point, I would return to the oncologist’s office and receive both red blood and platelet transfusions. I know that without those transfusions I would not be here today.
This is why I now coordinate a blood drive each year with the Red Cross. I must give back and show my appreciation to those who give so selflessly to others. I am so happy and proud to be a survivor, a real live example where I can show people that giving blood does save lives.
Now, twenty years later, I have so much to celebrate: my life, good health, my career, and the anticipation of my second child (coming in November!)
CHD is hosting a Blood Drive on July 28th at our 332 Birnie Avenue location in Springfield. If you can help, please call Kathryn at (413) 420-2365 or Click here to make an appointment (Type “CHD” in the search field)