Sheriff’s deputy with cancer discusses importance of donated blood

September 12, 2017 04:55 PM

Andrew Gravelle is a Saratoga County sheriff's deputy. He's dedicated to helping others. Even as he faces a monumental personal battle, he's still thinking of others.

Gravelle, 33, is a proud member of the law enforcement community. When not on the job, he runs - often ultra-marathon distances - 50 miles. However, these days, he's struggling to walk, after life threw him a cruel curveball.

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"I'm paralyzed from the nipples down," he explained.

Gravelle started suffering back pain more than a year ago. It culminated with a cancer diagnosis and a lesion on his spine that stole his mobility. He underwent surgery in early August and now endures physical therapy along with treatment to tame the cancer.

"Radiation is going to be the way to go at this point, what the doctors are telling me and I've started that already," he noted.

So far, he has not needed a blood transfusion, but he worries that will change if his cancer progresses and a bone marrow transplant is necessary. His years as a sheriff's deputy, responding to calls involving severely injured people, makes him acutely aware of what a lifesaver donated blood can be. 

"Without a good blood supply, those people might not make it," warned Gravelle. "They could bleed out. If there’s nothing available, there's nothing available."

Gravelle's wife of just a year, Nicole, is with him almost round the clock. Her support, along with that of family and friends, helps him focus not just on his battle, but on those he promised to protect. That's why he encourages us all to make sure the gift of life is available when crisis strikes.

"You never know when something's going to happen. I'm 33 years old. You think I was just going to wake up and realize I had cancer in my back? It's something to think about. It takes five minutes out of your day to go and give blood," he pointed out.

Gravelle hopes to be running again by next year.

Between Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need for blood is great, but there isn't enough. The American Red Cross says despite donations, the nation's blood supply remains at a critical level.

You can help save a life this Thursday, September 14. NewsChannel 13 and the American Red Cross are teaming up for our Save a Life Blood Drive. You can donate from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at locations in Albany, Clifton Park, Schenectady and Troy. Walk-ins are always welcome.

For more information and a list of locations, click the link below.

More information:
Save a Life Blood Drive


Benita Zahn

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