To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are sharing a brave story from Bridget Hunnewell who has been fighting since the first day she was diagnosed with Afibrinogenemia (Factor 1 Deficiency). And here she is today, strong, resilient and following her path onto a college career. Stay strong, Bridget!
1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Bridget Hunnewell, and I’m a senior at the University of Maine. I was diagnosed with Afibrinogenemia when I was just one day old, due to the fact that my heel sticks didn’t stop bleeding. The delivering doctor had originally told my parents that a person could not live without fibrinogen, but here I am at 21 years old about to graduate college.
2. When did your bleeding disorder affect you the most?
When I was a child I was really embarrassed to let other children know that I had something wrong with me. I’d try to avoid the subject as much as possible, afraid of what they might think. As I got older, I quickly learned that it’s not something to be embarrassed about at all. Yeah, I’ve have to be a little bit more careful when participating in certain activities, but it’s never stopped me from doing what I love to do. When I was in high school I played on the Junior Olympic Volleyball team that travelled throughout New England playing against other teams. I had sprained my thumb really bad in one of the games which had really bummed me out, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to play in the upcoming tournament knowing how long my thumb would take to heal, regardless of immediately getting a treatment. That didn’t stop me though, I continued playing volleyball throughout high school, and was captain of the team my senior year. One of the worst bleeds that I’ve ever had, was when I had pulled my groin muscle playing in one of the home games, which led to an internal muscle bleed that lasted for four and a half months.
3. What aspects of your bleeding disorder inspire and/or motivates you?
Overall, the older I’ve gotten, I can honestly say how proud I am of myself to have gone through as much as I have, and still have such a positive outlook on life. Sometimes I slip and fall causing huge bruises, sometimes I sprain a finger, or even have spontaneous muscle bleeds, but all of these occurrences have made me into the person I am today, and for that I’m proud. One time when having to get a treatment it took the nurses 22 sticks to try and find a vein, which believe me, sucked. That has been the only time I have ever cried when receiving a treatment, but because of times like that, I’ve gained the strength that I need to face other challenges in life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. My family and friends have always been so supporting, and because of that, no words could ever explain how grateful I am for them.
4. How do you give back to the community?
I would ultimately love to be able to be someone else’s support system who is or has gone through some of the same things that I’ve gone through in life. This disorder does not define who we are as human beings. If anything, I find it to be something that has given us the courage and strength to keep pushing on in life, despite anything that is thrown in our way. We fall down, and get right back up.
5. What advice do you have for someone who’s looking to get connected in their local community/chapter?
The best advice I can give to someone is to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to others that may know exactly what you are going through. I’ve only ever met in person, two other women that have the exact same type of bleeding disorder that I have. Finding other people that share similar experiences as you, can give you a whole new sense of support and comfort you may have never known you were missing.
Get Connected in YOUR Community
- Find your local chapter here.
- Contact your HTC to see what programs or events are offered in your area.
- Participate in the Red Tie Challenge for Bleeding Disorders Awareness month.