01/05/2012 05:39 EST | Updated 03/06/2012 05:12 EST

Blood donor reaches donation goal thanks to family

Friends and family have banded together to help a dedicated blood donor reach a personal donation goal that cancer had appeared to put out of reach.

Thea Cicione first gave blood in the late 1970s, a feat she repeated 143 times in the years that followed. Eventually, she set a personal goal of making 150 blood donations.

But a recent cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery meant Cicione could no longer give blood.

“I phoned the blood service and I asked them if I could give blood again after that and they said no, and I was so disappointed. I said: ‘Oh darn, then I won't make my 150 times, eh?’”

While Cicione had given up on her goal, the people closest to her had not. On Thursday, friends and relatives attended a Mississauga blood clinic to donate blood in her name, allowing Cicione to symbolically cross the 150 mark.

“I don’t feel so bad now,” she said.

Cicione’s son and daughter were among those that gave blood Thursday, alongside their mom.

For daughter Kim Szlapetis, it was the 27th time that she had given blood.

For her brother, Ben Cicione, it was his first time as a donor.

But they were both pleased to help their mom reach her goal.

“It feels great. I’m doing it. It’s for a good cause, it’s for people who need the blood and I’m not afraid to give,” said Ben Cicione.

Canadian Blood Services says it needs to collect 26,000 units of blood in January and February of this year. Canadians can call 1-888-2-DONATE for more information about how they can help.