Yesterday was a day at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. I got there at 8.20am, and left at 7.30pm. That meant leaving home at 6.30am, and getting home at 9.45pm. It was a long day. Luckily my mum came with me, so I wasn’t simply waiting round alone.

I had an infusion of rituximab, the monoclonal antibody agent, three units of leukocyte depleted red cells, and a unit of leukocyte depleted platelets. When I had blood taken in the morning my haemoglobin level was 74, and my platelets 17. Normal values for those are 130-180 and 150-400 respectively. That meant I was anaemic (I was certainly getting breathless easily), and had too few platelets to do their normal job of forming blood clots – hence the difficult to control blood noses I’ve been having… All of this is a side-effect of chemotherapy.

I didn’t have any reaction to the rituximab this time, which was good. I didn’t have any reaction to the blood products, either.

In Australia blood products are supplied free of charge to hospitals and patients by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, which is fully funded by Federal and State government. Donors are not paid, given incentives or otherwise remunerated for their gift. Which is truly a gift of life. If you’re not a blood donor and you’re eligible to be one, I urge you to consider it. If you are a donor – thank you so much. Without your gift I, and people like me, would not be able to be treated successfully for cancer – which could mean significant debility, more likely death. 30% of blood products in Australia go to manage and treat people with cancer – the single largest category.


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