Communication plays a very significant role in changing paradigms, especially in this digital age. In this speech, which I delivered at the Silliman University College of Mass Communication, I shared how I used my background in the field of communication to advocate for people with bleeding disorders.
I am trapped in a man’s world. But of another kind. For many years, medical science believed that bleeding disorders such as Hemophilia only affect boys and men. And so even as I grew up experiencing heavy monthly bleeds, I was never considered a candidate for a bleeding disorder.
Hemophilia, von Willebrand Disease and other factor deficiencies are rare genetic disorders that affect the person’s ability to clot. It is usually sex-linked and thus, boys who inherited the X-chromosome from their mothers are more likely to show symptoms. On the other hand, girls who got it from their fathers, are said to unlikely show symptoms.
Women with bleeding disorders continue to struggle for recognition. Many doctors and medical practitioners mistakenly hold on to the belief that only males can be affected by hemophilia. This is because hemophilia is generally perceived as a sex-linked disorder. Since males only have one X chromosome while females have two, the defective gene is guaranteed to manifest in any male who carries it. And because females have two X chromosomes, the probability of having two defective gene is very remote (plus the fact that hemophilia is rare).
Here are 4 practical ways to be a hemophilia advocate:
Talk about hemophilia. In your school. In your blog. In your FB wall. In your tweets. Wherever your sphere of influence may be, talk about hemophilia. By doing so, you raise awareness on this still largely unknown disorder.
Volunteer. Whether you have hemophilia or you don’t, if you have t a heart to reach out to the hemophilia community, volunteer your services. You can organize psycho-social activities for the youth group, or a camp for the children or you can assist in the general meetings. Whatever way you think you can help, let your local hemophilia community know that you are willing and available to help.
Visit a sick person with hemophilia. Every now and then, a “blood brother or sister” gets sick. Visit him/her whether in the hospital or in his/her home. That someone will be grateful to know you care.
Be active in your local hemophilia group. While being “connected” in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter is good, nothing beats being connected in flesh. So go, attend meetings of your local hemophilia community.
I am sitting here in my daughter’s hospital room, watching her as she sleeps, pondering on her future and the future of other Filipino “bleeders” like her. With the election fever high up in the air, I wonder what difference the incoming elected officials will bring to the very sick public health sector.
“Bawal magkasakit” is so real in this country where health care is almost like a luxury, especially for people with rare disorders like Hemophilia. Also known as “royal disease,” it is so coined because some members of the royal families are affected by it…. In the Philippines, the term “royal disease” takes a different meaning. It is considered a “royal disease” because only the “royals” can seemingly afford it. Hemophilia treatment is very expensive. Minor bleeds can cost a minimum of P30,000 per treatment. This does not include cost of hospitalization and the doctor’s fees. Major treatments can cost millions.