Currently, more than 10,000 blood donations are needed every single week to support the 1 million people living with or beyond cancer, like Kirsty.
With this expected to increase by a staggering 72% in the next 22 years, cancer patients will need even more donors to support them over the next decade.
How Kirsty became known as the cancer kid
After receiving her first cancer diagnosis as a girl, Kirsty was told her body could no longer produce healthy blood cells and it was a miracle she was still able to function.
So, despite being tiny and weighing less than 30kg, the first step of treatment was six bags of blood. This was followed by two and a half years of chemotherapy.
Luckily, Kirsty recovered and graduated to high school.
But then, when she was 16 and had been healthy for four and a half years, her cancer came back. This time she was given a 17% chance of survival. Her care team recommend she undergo chemotherapy again, which went on for another three years.
“Everyone thought I’d die, I decided to prove them all wrong”, Kirsty says, “I am so grateful to all of the total strangers who donated their blood to me. Without that fresh, healthy blood, my body would never have been able to heal.”
Living life to its fullest
Despite the cancer returning, Kirsty managed to complete her HSC and was determined to live life to its fullest – she swam with sharks, went skydiving in Cairns and got to do a life-writing course with Patti Miller.
“Being on chemo was often harrowing, and that’s why it was so important for me to continue to do all of my activities and always find a way to laugh through the worst of times.”
Throughout it all, Kirsty’s family rallied behind her, despite very few support services being available during the early and late 1990s.
“I don’t know how my parents managed when I was sick, they were superheroes. We kept placing one foot in front of another,” Kirsty says.
Launching a memoir
After successfully completing treatment a second time, Kirsty’s new dream was to write a book. This dream came true in 2021 when she published Honey Bloodwith HarperCollins, supported by literary agent Jeanne Ryckmans and publisher Mary Rennie.
“I wrote it for every child who didn’t get a chance to tell their stories.”
Kirsty is passionate about sharing her story to help others and all proceeds from Honey Blood go towards cancer research. A proud Darug woman, Kirsty now lives and teaches high school English, drama and Aboriginal studies on Dharawal land in Sydney’s south, where she also grew up.
“It’s magical that something that only takes such a short time can give the gift of a lifetime to someone else. So, if you’re reading this and thinking of donating blood, my question is: What are you waiting for?”.
To book a blood donation and receive a custom daffodil bandage during the month of February, visit lifeblood.com.