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UNK Senior Urges Importance of Blood Donation

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Rachel Berreckman looks back on what her life was like over a decade ago. A frail visit to her grandmother's house prompted her family to take her to go see her doctor; nothing would be the same after that.

"When we got to the clinic I saw some kids with IV poles with fluids or blood and it was just like 'what is going on?' They had bald heads and I didn't really put it together. I remember saying, 'Mom, that girl must have cancer,' never thinking that could be me," Rachel explains.

She was only 10 years old when she learned she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

After two years of chemotherapy, Rachel says she began wishing she was like other kids.

"I missed my entire fifth grade year of school and it was just things you started to realize, like, you missed that, you missed friends, you missed going out to basketball games and just [missing] daily school interactions with peers was hard."

Eleven years later, Rachel is about to reach two milestones she never thought she'd get to: graduating from UNK and getting married this October.

"Looking back on when I was sick, I never knew if those things were ever gonna happen, so to be here living, doing this right now, is pretty amazing," says Rachel.

She credits much of her recovery to the blood donations she received while in the hospital.

"My blood counts needed to be at a certain level for me to continue chemo, so if my blood wasn't there we have to hold off on chemo. If I didn't have that blood right there, [if there] was a limited supply of it, what would we have done?"

Rachel now advocates for people to donate blood even though she herself can't due to the leukemia.

She says, "You can make a difference even though you're not seeing that difference; just be selfless and donate.

We'll have stories just like Rachel's all month long as we lead up to the 13th annual NTV Blood Drive on May 2.

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