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Wed, Aug. 21

'Heroes' blood drive is this weekend

December is a critical need month for our community blood supply. The Holiday Heroes Blood Drive is from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 20-22, at the Prescott Gateway Mall in the Community Room. Each donor will receive a voucher for a free 14-inch cheese pizza and will be entered into a drawing for a pair of Great Lakes Airline Tickets. United Blood Services needs community heroes to step up to help save lives this holiday season.

To make your life-saving appointment call 1-877-UBS-Hero (827-4376) or visit bloodhero.com (sponsor code HH2013).

Meet Joan. Joan credits her family, her faith and hundreds of blood donors for keeping her alive. She battled breast cancer more than 30 years ago and survived a double radical mastectomy. But that was only one of the many challenges she has faced.

In 2002, atypical blood test results led to a bone marrow biopsy. Her physician delivered the bad news: "You have acute myeloid leukemia." She spent five days at Yavapai Regional Medical Center before she was transferred to the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

For six months, Joan endured chemotherapy on a 24/7 basis.

She was so low on platelets that she began hemorrhaging under her skin, causing her face and neck to look badly bruised. Her doctors determined that continuing the chemotherapy presented too great a risk due to the severity of the side effects.

Because she had such adverse reactions to the standard treatments, her case was the subject of a presentation at a national seminar. Experts from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston offered to treat Joan, where she spent six months under their care. They told her that every treatment was risky but it was the only option left to her.

By the end of her yearlong hospitalization, Joan had received more than 300 red cell and platelet transfusions. She was in remission for three years before suffering a relapse. She returned to Mayo Clinic in 2006 for a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Joan received several more transfusions leading up to and following her transplant. She has been cancer-free since then and even chaired the Light the Night Walk in Prescott to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Her health challenges continue with hip and knee replacement surgeries and even a wrist injury that required a plate and 15 screws to repair. "But I'm like the Energizer bunny, I just keep going," Joan said.

Today, Joan enjoys spending as much time as possible with family and helping with church activities and programs. She and Wes, her husband of 54 years, have lived in Prescott since 1993. Her daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren visit often.

For information, visit www.UnitedBloodServicesAZ.org.

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