During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the American Red Cross urged eligible donors to give blood to provide hope and healing to patients fighting cancer.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, and more than 268,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Cancer patients undergoing surgery and chemotherapy may require red blood cell or platelet transfusions. In fact, more than half of all platelets collected by the Red Cross are used by patients with cancer.

Donors of all blood types, especially those with type O blood, are needed to ensure a stable supply for cancer patients and others this fall.

Local blood donation opportunities include the Blue Island Park District, 12804 Highland Ave., on Friday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and St. Christina Church, 11036 S. Christiana Ave., on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

As a thank-you to those who come to give blood during the month of October, they will automatically be entered for a chance to win one of five $500 gift cards redeemable at hundreds of merchants.

Appointments can be made by calling (800) RED-CROSS or by visiting the website at redcrossblood.org.