Dedicated Man Survives Cancer Battle to Continue Donating Blood

Benjamin Brown September 11, 2018

When most people fight cancer, their biggest concern is whether or not they live. For Bill Goldsworthy, his worry was whether he’d be able to give blood.

Goldsworthy of West Pittson, Pennsylvania, is influential. He’s been the mayor, fire chief, and an Eagle Scout. Now he’s executive director for the American Red Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania.

He learned about blood donation from his father, a Vietnam War veteran.

“He was always so very proud whenever he got his little gallon pins in the mail. He’d run around the house yelling to my mom and I,” Goldsworthy told Humanity.

The idea to donate blood hadn’t crossed Goldsworthy’s mind until his father died in 2002.

Bill Goldsworthy and his father, William Goldsworthy Sr, at Easter in 1994 (Courtesy of Bill Goldsworthy)

“My thought was ‘well, it meant so much to him it’s got to mean something to somebody. I’m going to start giving blood,’” said Goldsworthy.

His first donation went smoothly. Realizing how easy it was to assist people this way, he returned to the blood center monthly.

A phlebotomist said he had the AB blood type, considered the universal plasma donor. Goldsworthy had only donated regular blood, but now they wanted his plasma and platelets too.

This would take much longer than the regular process, but Goldsworthy didn’t mind. He told them, “I have no problem giving my time if it’s going to help somebody else.”

Battling Prostate Cancer

Goldsworthy’s blood donations helped many struggling with cancer. So, when he received a prostate cancer diagnosis from his doctor in January 2017, there was a certain level of irony.

“I realized ‘Wow! This is what I’ve been giving my plasma and platelets for all these times is to help people maybe like me!’” he said.

Goldsworthy and his wife on vacation in Ireland.
Bill Goldsworthy and his wife, Jannet, at the Cliffs of Mohr in Ireland, four months after his prostate was removed. (Courtesy of Bill Goldsworthy)

Fortunately, Goldsworthy’s cancer hadn’t progressed much.

He was given a couple of treatment options, but decided to have the prostate removed.

The battle with cancer wasn’t long, but it did have consequences: The Red Cross prohibits anyone from donating blood until they have been cancer-free for at least a year.

“I really hoped and prayed that I could do it again because it almost felt like a void,” he said.

When he had his one-year appointment with doctors in Philadelphia, he was anxious, but thankfully got the wanted results: he was cancer free.

Soon he was back in the chair, ready to give blood, plasma, and platelets.

Bill Goldsworthy back at the blood center post-cancer. (Courtesy of Stephanie Rendon)

“It’s a great positive reinforcement on what we should all be feeling as humans in that we all want to help our fellow person … it’s a no-brainer,” he said.

Goldsworthy and his grandson on the beach
Bill Goldsworthy and his 3-year-old grandson, Noah, enjoying the beach. He describes spending time with family as the “best part of surviving cancer.” (Courtesy of Bill Goldsworthy)

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