As a blood bank supervisor for more than 20 years, Diana’s daily role is to have blood components available for patients who need blood transfusions. “Being both a blood banker and blood drive coordinator takes the process full circle, from recruitment to transfusion,” Diana said. “Who would ever think that today, my daughter, Brianna, would be one of many people added to the long list requiring this precious resource.”
In February 2008, 15-year-old Brianna had all the symptoms of a typical cold. But one month later, Brianna’s cough still lingered and she became more and more lethargic. Diana knew a visit to the hospital was in order. At Banner Children’s Medical Center, doctors gave them the terrible news: tests showed that Brianna was fighting stage-three Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which fights infection throughout the body and includes the spleen and the bone marrow.
Doctors performed biopsies on the tumors that surrounded Brianna’s lungs and began chemotherapy. Initial blood tests indicated that Brianna was severely anemic. During her first round of treatment, she received 12 red blood cell and one platelet transfusion.
Every 28 days, Brianna received a cycle of chemotherapy, accompanied by two or three transfusions. She would spend three to four days in the hospital on a very specific regimen of treatment. Brianna has had several setbacks common to lymphoma patients. Side effects from the treatment caused 70% of her hip joint to collapse in November 2008. Surgery repaired the joint, but it put an additional burden on the bone marrow to fight the disease and strengthen the hip. “Even though my mom has been in the ‘blood business’ for years, blood was not a tangible thing,” Brianna said. “I might never have felt the importance of blood if I hadn’t been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Brianna’s prognosis is good for a full recovery. “Because I had a blood cancer, I can never be a blood donor. But I hope my story will remind people of the lifesaving gift that donors provide. They are my heroes.”
A graduate of Barry Goldwater High School, she traveled to Oregon to attend Lewis & Clark College for a year. Brianna returned to the Valley to continue her education. She is studying at Phoenix College to become a phlebotomist. Brianna resides in Glendale.