Blood needs critical for cancer patients

SPARKS - Only four days before her 52 birthday celebration in September, Dian Ulrich found out she had ovarian cancer.

"It came on so suddenly," she said from her bed in her Sparks home. "When it happened to me, I had about a week and a half notice."

Ulrich underwent surgery, and begins chemotherapy today.

"It sort of spread fast with little indication that it was there at all," she said.

Chemotherpay is an important method of cancer treatment. More than 50 drugs are used against a variety of cancers. Drugs are used to destroy the cancer cells, but have serious side affects as well.

With the chemotherapy, it destroys Ulrich's good platelets along with her bad platelets. Platelets are the parts of the blood that prevent blood loss through a wound or cut.

"It's essential that she has these part of the blood to keep her from bleeding to death," said Nyla Emerson, spokeswoman for United Blood Services.

Ulrich works in the business office for Sierra Regional Center, a division of the state Department of Human Resources..

"People need to get out and donate, " she said. "When it happened to me, I had about a week and half notice, and it was too late to do anything. It brought an awareness to me and my husband, and the businesses where we work."

Emerson said that Ulrich has come a long way with the illness, but she will "need many, many, many more units of blood to pull her through."

Ulrich said that she and her husband, Bob, have been very positive about the entire situation and the future. Before moving to Sparks, the family lived in Carson City. She said that her children, Tyler, 26, and Karrie, 20, both attended schools in Sparks, and are now grown. Her illness has only helped to pull the family closer.

She said she enters Washoe Medical Center today for her first treatments.

Her physician, Dr. Peter Lim, Reno, at the Women's Cancer Center has been good to work with, Ulrich said.

"I don't know that I'll need more blood, but I do know that there are people out there who will need it," she said. "Sometimes you just can't wait until the last minute to donate it."

Emerson added: "Listen to her story and know that it's real. For the one face on the paper, there are a hundred just like her in need every day."


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