A Pint for Kim blood drive honors Naperville woman battling rare cancer, hopes to help others in years to come

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- The friends and family of a Naperville woman battling a rare form of cancer have organized a blood drive in her honor.

Kim Sandford is a wife, a mother of two, and the oldest of three sisters, a woman who put everyone first, her family said. But for the past several years she has battled a cancer so rare, her case was one in 10 million.

"Sometimes I would just watch her and be in awe," said Kristyn Benedyk, sister. "I don't know anybody else who would be fighting so hard."

Sandford was initially diagnosed with appendix cancer, which went into remission and then returned and spread to her bones. She was also treated for thyroid cancer.

"She would just be hooked up to so many machines and tubes and ports, one in her neck, one in her chest," Benedyk said.

After extensive treatments, Sandford's doctors exhausted their options. She spent nearly all of January in the hospital, and received nearly 40 blood and plasma transfusions.

"It took 20 or 30 strangers just to go in and donate blood and get her through this," said Benedyk.

That inspired her family to start the hashtag #APintForKim to raise awareness that a third of the blood collected across the country goes to cancer patients. It took off, and now the family has organized the first annual #APintForKim blood drive in March.

Hundreds of people have already signed up to give blood.

"As a family member, she's always put other people first and this has been a way for other people to express the fact that they know that, too," Benedyk said.

Kim is no longer receiving cancer treatment; the focus for her is now on comfort care. The hope is that A Pint for Kim becomes an annual blood drive to help others.
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