Winnipeg CDI Students Rally Around Classmate

June 15, 2009 | Manitoba

When CDI student Chantelle Chornoby was told her leukemia had reappeared in May 2009, campus director Tahl East decided to take action. Rounding up 15 of Chantelle's Winnipeg classmates, and her instructor, East contacted Canadian Blood Services to get started on a local blood drive.

Chantelle, a member of the War Lake First Nations, was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2007 and had gone into remission. But, the cancer didn't stay away for long. This time around, Chantelle was 30 weeks pregnant when the doctor's broke the news. She was forced to deliver the baby early, and get started on chemotherapy treatments right away.

With on-going chemotherapy, Chantelle will have to rely on many blood transfusions to help her body build back some immunity. So far, more than 40 CDI students have signed up to take part in this week's drive, which is also open to staff, family and friends. East has been hard at work, spreading the word about their efforts.

"We have had in-house student appreciation day activities, have gone class to class explaining the drive and even had a poster made specifically for us by Canadian Blood Services. We also have several local media outlets covering the drive." East said.

East is also in the midst of organizing a bone marrow donation program through the school and Canadian Blood Services. An information session will be held at the Winnipeg CDI campus on June 26, 2009 so students and the community can find out more about the "One Match" program, and how they can join the donor list.

Nationwide, only 1% of all bone marrow donors are of aboriginal descent, making it difficult for Chantelle to find a match. With this latest awareness campaign, East hopes more people will sign up for the program.

Originally from the northern Manitoba community of Red Lake, Chantelle was moved to take the Addictions and Community Service Worker Program at CDI after watching her small town struggle with constant substance abuse problems. She was scheduled to graduate in October 2009, but has had to put her studies on hold to resume her cancer treatments.

Transportation will be provided to and from CDI College to the site of the blood drive on June 25, 2009 at 9:00am or 12:00pm and on June 26, 2009 at 8:45am or 10:15am.

For more information on the One Match bone marrow program, please visit


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