CHICAGO - Stepping up to help someone you don't know and may never meet, that's what donating blood is all about.
One local woman is grateful today for strangers giving her the gift of life after a devastating diagnosis.
Karen Fielder's diagnosis is something she never saw coming but at as hard as it was for her, it took a greater toll on her family.
"I was diagnosed and I was in complete shock. I actually thought it wasn't my blood and I asked them to retest it because it was just so surreal that it was me," said Fielder. "My husband would work all day, then come home, shower and then come to the hospital and stay the night with me. So it was pretty tough."
"You can prepare yourself for so many things in life but you just, I never ever would have thought about something like that," said Mike Fielder, Karen's husband.
Hospitalization, blood transfusion and chemotherapy filled the last year of Fielder's life.
"It was exhausting. I mean I look back at pictures and most of the time I was sleeping. You know, honestly, I look back and I feel like it wasn't me going through it, but it was my family," said Karen.
"I can't explain the feeling of helplessness that I had and the other feeling of gratefulness of the other people that stepped into these roles and filled them for me or filled them for our family," said Mike.
Friends and family pitched in where they could, leaving meals in a cooler at the front door and filling her hospital room with words of encouragement.
But it was the people Fielder didn't know that could have made the biggest impact.
"All the blood and blood product I had along the way, I mean people don't even know me. There's no way you can thank those people. Saying thank you just doesn't seem like enough. When you donate blood, it's such a simple thing to do. Being on the other side it was just, it was a totally different feeling about how valuable it is and how much you can help someone you don't even know. It's pretty incredible," said Karen.
Karen Fielder is now in remission and credits the selflessness of her husband and an incredible team of doctors and nurses at Loyola to getting her to where she is today.
Here's a shocking number- it took 48 donors to make sure she had all the blood she needed during treatments.
You have the chance to give the gift of life. You can register right now for the ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive. This year's drive is on January 9th and will be held at a new location downtown at the Hyatt Regency and our second location is once again at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel.
You can make an appointment right now for the Blood Drive by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.