Since October, 8-year-old Addison Rivera has been fighting acute lymphatic leukemia, a type of blood cancer. It was because of this that her mother, Cassandra, realized the importance of donating blood, leading to her create a local blood drive in partnership with Children’s Hospital on July 23.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions about giving blood that even I didn’t understand until my daughter needed blood,” Cassandra said. “So many people can give blood, and one adult can help up to three children.”
Cassandra said she had always believed she couldn’t donate as she thought those with tattoos cannot donate and was also told she was anemic in college.
“It was something I always steered away from until I saw how live-saving it is — it’s amazing,” she said. “I also didn’t know how needed it is.”
The leukemia diagnosis came just four days before Addison’s 8th birthday, and she had her first chemotherapy treatment on her birthday.
Since then, Addison has received numerous blood transfusions as part of her treatment, and Cassandra watched her daughter go from lethargic to “ready to go, ready to dance” after receiving blood.
A couple of months ago when Addison was very sick and in need of a transfusion, she had to wait a few days for it, and Cassandra found out why after noticing that the blood bag said “Red Cross Northern California” on it.
When Cassandra asked about the blood bag, she discovered that the hospital’s blood bank was empty and they had to buy blood from the Red Cross.
“I thought, ‘How many other kids is this happening to?’” Cassandra said, adding, “So, this has become a passion because I didn’t know I could be (donating) or how easy it was. We just want to give back more than get.”
Although Addison is still under active chemo, she’s feeling a bit better so she and her family have been going around to local businesses, promoting the blood drive and collecting donations so they can raffle off prizes at the blood drive.
Those who attend the drive will receive five tickets just for showing up, while those who donate blood will receive 10, Cassandra said.
The Children’s Hospital therapy dogs are expected to be in attendance, as well as a DJ to play music and a face painter.
The blood drive is scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at Valencia United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall, located at 25718 McBean Parkway. To schedule an appointment, visit CHLADonateBlood.org using sponsor code “UMCV.’
To read more about Addison’s battle with cancer, visit signalscv.com/2019/02/addison-rivera-is-prepared-to-fight-like-a-unicorn-to-beat-cancer.