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Blood Donor Clinic – Janine’s Story

Janine’s Story


From the first day Janine started at Academy of Learning Career College, she was steadfastly focused on her goals for the future.  Already a seasoned retail manager, she made the decision to continue her education so that she would be able to find a new career, one which would allow her a quality of life she had been yearning for. Certainly, there were hurdles to consider, and Janine thought she had considered them all, developing thoughtful strategies and committing to them without wavering.  She planned for everything, but plans don’t always go the way you think they will, no matter how much preparation goes into them.

In 2012, Janine was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma (AdCC), a rare form of adenocarcinoma which typically has a slow and ongoing growth rate, but over time can become quite aggressive.  This particular form of cancer is so rare that many individuals who suffer with AdCC have a difficult time finding a physician who has experience in treating it.  The symptoms may be slow to present, and tumour growth may be slow, but AdCC is classified as a high-grade malignancy as patients may experience significant “growth spurts” in their tumour, no matter the initial prognosis.  Its path is unpredictable, and while people may live with it for many years, there are simply no guarantees about survival.

Janine accepted the diagnosis and, in her typical fashion, approached it as a new challenge which needed a plan.  She worked closely with her doctor, followed the recommended protocol, and found a way to balance and integrate treatment into her daily routine.  She maintained a positive outlook and never lost sight of her goals, continuing to work toward the future she envisioned for herself.  Her energy and dedication did not waver despite the illness, and she worked hard to stay ahead of it all, ultimately deciding to fight instead of wasting time worrying about what she could not control.

Shortly after beginning her course of study at AOLCC, Janine consented to participating in a new clinical drug study at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.  She was aware that there may be side effects, but she was willing to participate not just for herself, but so that others may benefit from the results of the experience.  What if this drug was the miracle she was looking for?  By participating, she may well have been a very important player in something that could save the lives of others.

Initially, Janine found that the trial seemed to be running smoothly.  She had been expecting some side effects, as she’d been warned that they were a possibility, but in those first few days she carried on with life as usual.  She was under continuous observation, her progress was closely monitored, and she was hopeful that this treatment may be a resonant success.

But, again, plans don’t always go the way you think they will.

Despite the early seamlessness of her treatment, Janine began to experience debilitating side effects which, despite her preparation for them, stopped her.  Her energy sharply dropped, and she found she was unable to function in any capacity.  She was admitted to the hospital where it was determined that her hemoglobin levels were dangerously low.  Her doctors immediately arranged for Janine to have a blood transfusion, but due to the severity of her deterioration, she required another transfusion shortly thereafter.  Janine received both of these transfusions over a 3-week period, and struggled to regain the energy she relied upon to help her fight her illness.

While she has experienced other difficult side effects from the treatment, it is the lack of energy that seems to bother her most.  A self-described “high-energy, go-getter”, it bothers her deeply that she cannot move at the speed she is accustomed to.  The blood transfusions she received were necessary in helping her to resume her battle plan, and she is emphatic about the importance of blood donation.

“Blood transfusions can make the difference between life and death,” Janine says simply.  “It is difficult to see the immediate benefits of giving blood because you never know who is getting it and what sort of impact it has made, but I can say confidently that these gifts are positive and necessary.   I needed the help, and I got it, thanks to the selflessness and kindness of total strangers.”

Janine further states that she has absolute trust in her doctor and is confident she is in the best hands.  She continues to undergo treatment, but is balancing this with her studies, determined to see them through, but at her own pace.

“Why wouldn’t I?” she smiles.  “What is the alternative? Stay home and feel miserable?  I need to be around people, especially people who are focused on their goals for the future.  That’s what I want to be infected with.  That’s what I need to stay positive and healthy, mentally and physically.”

Janine continues making her plans even though she knows that they don’t always go the way she thinks they will.   With the support of others, including her doctor, blood donors, friends and family, she is fine with this, knowing that there will be other plans, other ways to get where she wants to go.

- Tara Teeling


If you or someone you know would be interested in joining Academy of Learning Career College, Kingston campus in donating blood for our Adopt-A-Clinic for Canadian Blood Services, October 24-26, 2017, please contact us at (613)544-8973, email or visit the following link for details.

We hope you will join us so that others may benefit from your generosity and be able to continue making plans.



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