Saratoga County dad cancer-free thanks to donated blood

September 11, 2019 06:38 PM

Every day countless friends, neighbors, family, and relatives rely on donated blood. For some it's to survive surgery - or a traumatic accident - or to continue with lifesaving chemotherapy. That's because chemo can cause severe anemia.

If not for donated blood, a local father of two might not be here today.


At 46, Josh Bitter is enjoying his life - a good job in I.T., a wife of 18 years, and two daughters who put light in his eyes and fill his heart. However, all this hung in the balance just before his oldest daughter, Madilyn was born. He'd been having some pain, went to the doctor which led to another doctor and then the boom.

"While I'm laying there, and they're performing this, he looks over and says, 'You have cancer.' Out of the blue, not expecting it. Last thing I was expecting," he said.

It was testicular cancer. A very treatable type he was told. There would be surgery and radiation. However, the original pathology report was wrong and the type of testicular cancer he had was aggressive. Eighteen months after his treatments wrapped up - with a new baby at home - doctors found the cancer was now in his lung.

Now he'd need chemotherapy and it was brutal. He would also need blood transfusions to keep his blood counts up, so he could continue the treatment.

"I would say at least 6," he recalled.

There would be surgery to remove the lung tumor and still more treatment to tame the cancer beast. That meant more blood transfusions - more than a dozen, Josh figures.

During this, their second daughter Jacey was born. Along with all the worries - would there be blood available when he needed it? That weighed heavily on his wife Stephanie's mind.

"We were in this big, huge hospital. You had no idea what other people needed. So definitely, I considered it as being a problem," she explained.

Both Josh and Stephanie were blood donors before all this and continue to be – even sponsoring a yearly blood drive in Queensbury.

"It's not that scary and you feel so good about it because if there ever comes a day that you or your family needs the blood, you realize that it was the right choice to make. It was the best hour you ever spent," said Stephanie.

No question for this family as Josh is coming up on eight years cancer-free.

"I just thank you," he said.

You can give the gift of live at our Save a Life Blood Drive this Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. We've got locations in Saratoga, Colonie, Troy, and Schenectady. You can click here to make your appointment. As always, walk-ins are welcome.


Benita Zahn

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