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16 December 2020

Blood donations and chemotherapy - Pam's story


In 2010, Pam Canning, 53 from Edinburgh was diagnosed with breast cancer. Without blood donors, she doesn't think she could have made it through her treatment.

Pam had chemotherapy treatment and went into remission, however in 2018 the cancer came back, this time in her lung. This time the chemo was much more aggressive and Pam needed blood transfusions between each round. 

Pam, who is a mum to two grown up daughters Holly and Laurie, and step mum to Leah and Blair told us, 'The first time I had chemo it was really hard, but the second time around it just knocked me for six - zapped all my energy. Without the help of blood transfusions, there is no way I would have been well enough or allowed to continue with my life saving chemo. Blood donors allowed me to carry on.'

'You don’t realise how much you want to have chemo until you are told you can’t have it because your blood isn’t well enough.  Without the kindness of strangers, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my chemotherapy treatment and get back on with my life.'

Pam had to undergo gruelling chemotherapy treatment.

Being nervous about having a blood transfusion, however vital, is natural, and Pam took great comfort from the experience blood donors had shared on social media.

'Just before my first transfusion I came across a post on Facebook and people were saying that they had just been to donate as they’d seen stocks were low. It was amazing for me to put names and faces to the blood and I thanked everyone for doing this. In my mind my donations had come from one of them.'

Without the kindness of strangers, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my chemotherapy treatment and get back on with my life. Pam Canning

Unfortunately, Pam had to break it to her partner Alan and the rest of her family that another tumour had been found during lockdown, but she remains optimistic.

'I am now back on chemo. This one is a bit gentler so hopefully I won’t need any transfusions but it’s good to know that help is on hand if I do need one again. Today, I am still fighting cancer and living life to the full with lots of plans for travel once the pandemic is over.' 

Pam enjoying a few cocktails with partner Alan.

Pam is sharing her story with us this Christmas to encourage new and lapsed  donors to make that special commitment to give blood.

'I have the upmost respect and gratitude for blood donors – I was a blood donor before I had cancer which was something I was very proud of.  It’s a labour of love, a random act of kindness and paying it forward all rolled into one, as you never know when you or someone you care about may need blood.  I can no longer give blood but I encourage my family and friends to do so.'


  • To help someone like Pam, sign up/sign in to book your appointment to give blood this Christmas. 

Current blood stock levels across Scotland Friday 17 September

We aim to retain 6 days of stocks at any time in order to meet the requirements of patients in Scotland.

Learn more about blood types