By Jillian Risberg
When Det. Sgt. Aaron Perkins was first diagnosed in 2019 with cancer, if not for the community’s generosity, his future was looking a lot more uncertain.
“After seeing the amount of blood (transfusions) doctors gave me to stabilize and recover, it reminded me how important it is for blood donors,” the police sergeant says. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here today. I knew I needed to pay it forward.”
So the Hackettstown-Mansfield PBA-local 369 dove right in by organizing a blood drive at the Miller Street Firehouse on Jan. 25.
Perkins says he never expected such significant blood loss after his surgery for renal carcinoma, the most common type of (adult) kidney cancer — that accounts for about 90 percent of cancerous tumors.
Blood products expire quickly — with a shelf life of only up to 42 days. So regularly replenishing the supply is imperative.
That wasn’t a problem, with enthusiastic participation; including the mayor, friends, neighbors and even strangers who wanted to help.
“I was extremely surprised,” Perkins says. “Having never arranged an event like this, I was extremely grateful at the amount of support and turnout from everyone. This by far was most heartwarming.”
According to Public Information Officer Darren Tynan, the event was a huge success.
“We had a goal of 100 and we exceeded that,” the public information officer says. “It was great to see people coming from all over the area to support the blood drive.”
The police bond is like no other, profoundly affecting all of them when they find out one of their own is dealing with cancer.
“It hits you hard when you hear one of your brothers or sisters are sick,” Tynan says. “We all wanted to help him get through this and help his family.”
And Perkins has always done his best to be there for them whenever possible.
“To see them respond and give blood just shows how much we look out for each other,” he says. “I’m very thankful how our PBA is always looking to help the community.”
Through the detective’s health issues, they have continually checked up on him.
“Whether it was a phone call, text, or stopping by that really helped me to remain positive,” Perkins says.
According to the detective, after being sidelined from work for almost five months — he is doing better now.
“My treatment plan is regular visits with doctors to see how my body is recovering and to make sure there isn’t any recurrence,” Perkins says. “I’m looking forward to a full recovery and for a long life ahead of me.”
Tynan says they definitely plan on holding future blood drives.
And to all the community members who showed up on a wintry Saturday to aid the detective, along with Molly Gorczyca, a Hackettstown High School alum and Maddy Holloway, from Hackettstown Middle School, in their cancer battle— Perkins can’t thank them enough.
“To see such an outpouring of support and to hear so many positive statements, hugs, and well-wishes really made the day,” he says. “I love how they came together to assist others, even people they didn’t know. It reminded me how proud I am to be working for this community.”