Hello everyone! I’m Damien; one of the two founders of 1 Cent -1 Life, and I just wanted to take the time and share with all of you my story as a hemophiliac. At birth, being diagnosed with hemophilia “A” has always been a struggle for me growing up. As a very active child, I really never understood what hemophilia really meant until my very first joint bleed. I was about 8 years old when my first major internal bleed that I remember. It happened while I was playing a friendly game of tag with my step-cousins in a near by playground when BAM! I smacked my knee off a pole while I was running away from my cousin. It hurt really badly when it happened and I cried a bit but then shook it off and never really thought anything of it.
The next morning when I woke up for school, I got out of my bed and fell onto the floor in excruciating pain; I was thinking to my self what the heck, how come I am unable to walk or put any weight onto my leg. So being only 8 years old and doing what I think any 8 year old child would do, I called to my mom in a panic and started to cry and told her that I am unable to walk or put any weight onto my right leg. And as any great mother would do, she took me to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. From there my great nurses I had assess me told me and my mother that I have a joint bleed in my right knee.
For a month, I had to go to Sick Kids Hospital every other day for a needle where the nurses would inject me with factor. Factor is just clotting blood cells turned into a white powder form substance where you mix it with water and then inject it in your vein to stop internal bleeding. It sucked and I never liked it.
This injury led me to noticing that I was different from all my friends and kids I went to school with. And from hear I started questioning and asking my self and God why this is, and how can I cure this. It was very frustrating for me growing up because my friends and family never really fully understood what hemophilia is. I would always have to explain it the best I knew, but it was hard because I was embarrassed at the time.
My dream and goal as a child growing up was to be the first hemophiliac professional athlete (NBA). Hearing “NO” and “You can’t do this cause your condition”, really upset me and inspired me to push forward so that I could show other hemophiliacs, that anything is possible if you put no limitations on your life no matter what others say. I was also very frustrated because I was good at any sport I played, and I asked God “why make me so good at something if I’m unable to reach my full potential?”. Little did I know, God had bigger plans for me, and being a great athlete was just to prepare me for what lies ahead.
A few years later when I was 18 years of age, I had a life changing bleed (injury). It happened when I went back to visit my elementary school on a Friday for some pickup basketball to help the kids get better. While I was playing defense, I took a step to defend one of the younger kids when I felt a slight pop in my right hip/groin area. When it happened I thought I just tweaked an old groin injury I got from track and field back in elementary school. A week and a half went by and I was still in a lot of discomfort. That day while I was taking a shower I noticed that when I was washing my right leg that I had little to no feeling in it. So I called my nurse at Sick Kids Hospital and told her what I was experiencing, and she told me to come to the hospital as soon as possible. I was in so much pain at that point that I needed pain killers.
I had to spend a whole week at Sick Kids hospital with an iv needle in my arm, and numerous CAT Scans that showed the nurse that I had an internal bleed the size of baseball. If I waited any longer, I would have had my right leg amputated. This injury changed my life because it helped me realize that becoming a professional athlete wasn’t in my cards. I spent 3-4 months in rehab, and it took a little over two years to have complete feeling back in my right leg (thigh).
From the age of 18 when that injury happened until I was about 21 almost 22, I went through depression because everything I’ve known and loved to do got taken away from me. It took me a while to recover and find myself and re-find my calling in life. After I shook off the depression myself, I made a promise with myself that I won’t let anything get me down and I’ll keep pushing forward. And push forward I did. I started reading inspirational books and changing the way I live and view life. I read the entire New Testament of the Bible and I’m almost finished reading the entire Old Testament.
I’ve done a complete 360 degree turn that, I’ve increased my factor levels from 1% up to 5% (1% is a very low clotting rate. 100% is best and that’s what people that aren’t hemophiliac have.). Factor levels can fluctuate 1%-2% but no more then that usually. When my nurse informed me about this increase of my factor levels from one of my yearly blood check ups at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, it dawned on me that hemophilia can actually be cured. This was the beginning stages of 1 cent -1 Life.
Now 24 years old, I’ve realized what it is that God wants me to do in this life, help bring about a positive change into peoples lives. This is what God was preparing me for, the much bigger picture I spoke about before. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, especially from sports. But no matter what, I keep pushing forward and rising above each challenge. All my past injuries and struggles with learning how to live with hemophilia, has brought me to this very point in my life writing this blog to share with you guys; the start of 1 Cent -1 Life.
I look forward to finding a lot of permanent health solutions, and ridding humanity of its health concerns. So that we all could live life to the fullest and enjoy the important things in our lives, friends, family, faith and nature.
If you want to learn more about hemophilia or 1 Cent -1 Life, check out our website at www.1cent1life.com. Let’s make a “change” together!
“Life is an opportunity, embrace it.” – Damien Williams