In late 2016, Megan Fernandez’s grandfather was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer that originates in bone marrow, where blood cells are made. In the process of battling cancer and receiving treatment, it was necessary that her grandfather receive blood transfusions every week.
While the diagnosis was predictably difficult for her entire family, Megan expressed that the experience was also eye-opening. “You never think it’s going to be you or someone you know. But at any point, an accident can happen or some other medical complication. I never really processed just how many people rely on blood so consistently, like my grandfather did,” she said.
Though her grandfather lived in Illinois and she lived in California, she went to visit multiple times during his treatment and vividly recalls going with him to get the weekly transfusions. “I remember wishing we had the same blood type so that I could do something really tangible to help his treatment,” Megan said. And while Megan wasn’t able to donate directly to her grandfather, she was really thankful to those who did donate and generously and unknowingly supported him during his treatment and provided the family hope.
Sadly, Megan’s grandfather passed away within a year of his diagnosis. However, she continues to honor his memory in many ways — including blood donation. “While I started donating before he passed away, it has really become more important to me now. There are so many health issues that we don’t have solutions for, but it’s nice to be able to do something tangible to help while researchers continue to look for better methods of prevention and treatment,” she said.
Though she admits that it can be easy to fall into the mindset of “someone else will do it,” she reminds herself and urges others to remember that someone has to keep showing up, because the need for blood is constant. “I feel particularly inspired when I come in and see so many people donating,” she said. “It keeps me going to see how many donors are sticking with it, and especially getting to form that sense of community and unity around a common cause when I talk to other donors and volunteers in the canteen.”
We at SBC are lucky to have Megan as not only a member of our donor community, but also as an advocate who makes real strides to grow that community. A huge thank-you to Megan and all our donors who continue to show up for those in need!