« Cindi Rossiter: The 'Need for Blood' Hits Home for Michigan Blood Employee »

by Tom Rademacher, Veteran Grand Rapids Press columnist and long-time Michigan Blood donor

Looking for a last-minute gift to give this holiday season?

Cindy Rossiter has the perfect solution for you – a gift where you don’t have to worry about the size or color. A gift where refunds aren’t a factor. A gift that brings more than smiles to the recipient’s face because it’s actually a lifesaver.

It’s blood.

Cindi is in a unique position to cheerlead it as the perfect gift, because she has given blood, received blood – and just happens to work for Michigan Blood – as an assistant in the department of quality assurance.

A native of Missouri, Cindi moved here to accompany her husband in his pursuit of an education at Grand Valley State University. They had two children and divorced before he succumbed to lung cancer two years ago.

The battle he waged was not unfamiliar to Cindi, as she, too, was diagnosed with lung cancer, back in 2009. After undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, she went into remission and has been cancer-free for six years.

It was during her recovery that she had occasion to receive two blood transfusions, and it only reinforced in her the dramatic importance of blood as a lifesaving agent for so many in need.

“When I had my first chemo treatment, it was a few days later that I couldn’t get comfortable. I woke up coughing blood…and they admitted me.” Her medical team decided to give her two pints of blood, and Cindi remembers that “It was like the very next day that I felt really better.”

Later, she had a second transfusion to combat the effects of anemia, and again, it worked like a charm.

“It really hit home for me,” says Cindi, “what we’re doing at Michigan Blood and why we’re there. I needed it, and it was there for me, and I don’t think enough people think about that, that it’s there for you when you need it.”

In Cindi’s perfect world, there wouldn’t be a need for blood drives or marketing campaigns to heighten awareness, because anyone able to give would give regularly.  “It would be nice,” she says, “if new people considered it every day.”

Cindi’s health challenge surfaced in a subtle way, with her fingers suddenly taking on the appearance of “little sausages.” That signaled a possible respiratory problem, and an eventual diagnosis of lung cancer. “Then my cancer journey began.”

Cindi admits it was rough going at first: “I was shocked and upset. I did cry. But after that, I thought ‘I’m going to get through this. Because there’s so much I still need to do.’”


That would include showering a grandmother’s love on what is now a total of six, ranging in age from 3 to 12. You want a gauge to determine her fondness for those kids? When her daughter was due to have a baby, Cindi stayed until the baby was born, then raced across the street to undergo a scheduled radiation treatment, making it with not a minute to spare.

When she’s not involved with the grandkids, she spends a little time on herself with books, movies and crossword puzzles – tough crossword puzzles, by the way. She laughs:  “I don’t always complete them, but it keeps my brain working.”

So does her job here at Michigan Blood, where she helps to make sure that “standard operating procedures” are followed, important at any workplace, but especially critical at a facility like ours.

Before coming on board at Michigan Blood in 1999, Cindi worked both in the insurance industry and education. She cherishes her current job, where she says that “The best part about the place is the people who work there,” describing them as “very friendly, and everyone is a team player.”

“You never feel like you’re on your own. If something happens, you have others there who are always there to help and you never experience that ‘under the bus’ feeling. They’re just really great to work with, and I think it’s that way because they all believe in what they’re doing – saving lives.”