Platelets: The New Pink


It’s pink season again. With October being the official breast cancer awareness month, the color pink is in full bloom. But what does wearing pink have to do with curing breast cancer? For some, it is a reminder to have a breast exam for early cancer detection. For others, it is the time to make that donation or raise money to fund cancer research.

This is worthwhile, as many of us know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and we pray that these funds can help our loved ones now. Unfortunately, for many of these cancer patients the cure will not happen in their lifetime. We as believers in the God of miracles know that with God all things are possible. This is our strongest defense in dealing with any kind of disease, injury or illness. Besides bringing physical healing, prayer and trusting in God can provide emotional and spiritual comfort to the patient and to the caregiver.


Where’s your pink?

I have nothing against the color pink but I’m finding that if I don’t don it during October, I’m sometimes under attack. It is especially tense because the company I work for sells pink uniform accessories to show/raise support for the cause. One of the reasons I don’t buy these items is that the funds go to the Susan G. Komen foundation. Most of us are aware of the scandal surrounding the foundation sending money to Planned Parenthood–the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S. Not only does this come down to a moral issue but some studies report that abortions can actually increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. And, though Planned Parenthood gives referrals for mammograms they do not perform them at their facilities.

Though the Susan G. Komen should be applauded for being the leading non-profit in funding breast cancer research, there have also been controversies over distribution of funds in the form of high salaries and some corporate sponsors misleading the public about their portion of proceeds that actually go to finding a cure. As with all money we donate, it is best to get informed to see where our money is being directed.


A better way

As one comedian quipped, “The ribbons aren’t working.” He’s right. Simply wearing a small twisted piece of pink material is not going to do much for the cancer patient. It may show you care and a small portion of the sale of the ribbon may go towards finding a cure, but why not give more directly and effectively? Donating platelets literally saves lives. And not for those generations from now but for the cancer patients we know, love and pray with right now. Many of us are unaware of this fluid’s life-saving ability. Its function is to stop bleeding by clotting the blood vessels.  This is needed for cancer patients as well as for those with blood diseases and traumatic injuries. Platelets are replenishable in most healthy individuals, allowing a person to donate just 7 days after their previous donation. Currently the need for platelets is at an all time high. Shelf-life for platelets is just 3 days so donors are extremely important. But many are reluctant to give partly due to lack of knowledge and partly due to fear.


Don’t fear

Like many, I am not a fan of needles, clinics or watching any type of fluid of mine flowing into a tube. But my apprehension is a small sacrifice compared to what the patient on the receiving end is having to go through. In my greatest empathy I cannot come close to imagining what a life of cancer means. Knowing that God has given us bodies that can help heal or even save another person’s life and then miraculously replenishes itself after donating, is mind-blowing to me. The same holds true for donating blood or plasma.  


What to expect

There are different blood centers, hospitals and clinics that take platelet donations. My favorite is the Hollywood Blood Center as they treat me as part of the family. These nurses are particularly cheerful greeting me with hugs and appreciative gratitude. Knowing my aversion to needles, I am pampered during my short time there. The process takes about 90 minutes during which you can relax and watch a movie of your choice.  I actually look forward to this ‘forced’ downtime in my otherwise hectic life. Prescreening is necessary before each donation but this takes only about 10 minutes. This is great, too, because you get free blood pressure and iron counts and temperature while you are there and access to your cholesterol levels online. Don’t think you have the time? Blood donations take only 10-15 minutes for most and are also highly valuable.


The rewards

After each donation you are given an appreciation gift — usually a gift card or T-shirt. But, of course, nothing compares to the greatest reward of all: saving a person’s life. So when you’re asked this month “where’s your pink?” you can respond with “I decided to save a life instead and traded my pink for platelets.” Who knows — maybe you will inspire others to give, thereby saving even more lives. Together with platelets and prayer, we can be even a greater impact in the fight against cancer.

To donate call 1-800-RedCross, 1-888-USblood or visit
Chris Alexander is a freelance writer, traveler, songwriter and mixed media artist. Check out ChrisAlex’s ‘GuitArt’ at

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