SpringFest!


It doesn’t feel quite like spring yet in New England, but Saturday was SpringFest, the New England Hemophilia Association’s annual family symposium. I was very happy to be home, so I could attend this event, a mere 15 minutes from my house. Our new executive director of NEHA, Kevin Sorge, said it best: “This is like family.” And it is. We were reunited again, for some of us 20 years now, our sons grown but our desire to see this community continue to progress still burning bright.

Even some of the pharmaceutical and home care reps have been part of our lives for 12-20 years. How fast it has gone by!

Linda Price of Virginia will be thrilled to know I finally met her son Greg, now living in the Boston area. Last time I saw Greg he was about 10. It was a lively time, because of how long we’ve all known each other and how rarely we get to see one another.

The speakers and topics were good, and the turnout was excellent, despite the rain. There were lots of children, and teens. My own son couldn’t make it, and he missed some of his long time hemophilia friends.

The highlight of the day without doubt was a moment that reduced us all to tears: an award ceremony, with our shining star, Leland Smith, age 15. I first met Leland when he was only a toddler. He has hemophilia, and a devastating inhibitor that at times keeps him wheelchair bound, as he was this day. I know his story well, and I can tell you that not many people has endured suffering like this child. The time he has spent in the hospital, the treatments he has undertaken, the missed school, the excruciating and unrelenting chronic pain; and yet he wants to be a doctor, and is an active lobbyist for NEHA. He has traveled to Washington DC and also to the Massachusetts state house to present himself, to help NEHA get bills passed to protect the rights of those with hemophilia. To know how much this kid has gone through, and to see how at such a young age he is active socially, well… we all crumbled inside in admiration of his character and his strength. Leland reminds me of the words: It is in the deepest valleys that the stars shine brightest; it is pressure that turns coal into diamonds. Congratulations to Leland, a true leader of a new generation of young men with hemophilia. Thanks for making such a memorable day for us all!

Great Book I Just Read: Mawson’s Will by Lennard Bickel.
Speaking of pain and suffering, you haven’t read anything till you have read this book. Dubbed the greatest polar survival story ever, this tells the true story of Douglas Mawson, a giant in the age of polar exploration in the early 1900s. Mawson, an Australian, was already a veteran polar explorer at age 29 when he traveled to the Antarctic in 1911 to seek the magnetic pole and to chart unknown territories. Splitting into three groups, he and two other men part with his crew for a few months and enter the incredibly hostile terrain. Mawson loses both men on his team and is left utterly alone, without enough food, shelter or dogs to see him back, in 50 degree below zero weather with gale force winds…. for one month. How he survives is a page-turning, gripping and miraculous tale. Mawson is responsible for Australia’s claim to 45% of the Antarctic. His tale is legend. This was the fourth time I’ve read this book and it gets better each time. Four stars!

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