“Cancer was our gift on Christmas Eve,” says Val Helmer.
Not long before, his wife, Bonnie, had been feeling unwell and saw the doctor for tests and exploratory surgery. She was diagnosed with stage 3B colon cancer, but doctors remained hopeful. “There wasn’t any evidence that it had spread,” Val says. “The oncologist said there was a 60% chance that after five years, things would still be OK.”
Bonnie started chemotherapy, which took a toll on her body. To help give her body the strength to fight, she began receiving platelet transfusions. And the more chemotherapy treatments she received, the more units of platelets she needed. “I was absolutely amazed at what a difference they made and how fast,” Val says. “It was like a miracle medicine.”
Sadly, Bonnie lost her battle with colon cancer in 2012, with her husband by her side. About a year after she passed, Val was looking for a way to honor his wife’s memory and began donating platelets. “Cancer was quite the journey, and I learned a lot of things that led to donating platelets,” he says. “I learned a lot about the little things, the big things and what matters in life. If you get a chance and you’re on the good side of things, it’s nice to give back to other people.”
Val is nearly to his goal of 100 platelet donations and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “It matters to somebody somewhere, because it mattered to us,” he says. And as he approaches donation #100, he encourages others to donate, too. “You can’t put a value on it. We were lucky that someone gifted us their platelets,” he says. “The next best thing was to gift them on.”
People need people, make a difference in someone’s life by donating blood.
We must rely on each other for the gift of blood, and patients in your community rely on the generosity of Versiti’s blood donors to help. Please consider scheduling an appointment to donate. If this is your first time, donating blood is quick, easy and relatively painless. And, it is a great way to give back and help patients in your community.