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Why Him?

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It is amazing how things can change in an instant when it is least expected and the everlasting impact it can have as a result. July 10, 2008, was one of those times in my life. It was a time that continues to be fresh in my mind and one in which I gained a new perspective on what was truly important.

The look on the tear-stained faces of my parents and my oldest brother as they walked slowly in the house revealed to me that I was about to discover something that would impact my entire family. Alex looked as though he had just lost his best friend and then some. This moment will be forever embedded in my memory. In trepidation, I almost did not want to know.

Alex has always been fearless and flawless in my eyes. He was, and still is, the “perfect” brother who has been my rock to lean on when I needed one. He always provided help to me, his only sister, with homework and was there to give his unwelcoming but enlightening opinion on potential boyfriends. His strength and devotion have always been qualities that I admired in him. In high school, he was passionate about football and basketball, and he was a straight A student. He handled disappointment and adversity in life like nobody else I knew. Though here, in our kitchen on that scorching July day, was the first time that I saw this strong individual collapse into a fetal-like position. That day he was diagnosed with Hemophilia.

Hemophilia? What is that? I could barely pronounce the word much less begin to understand what it meant. It had to be something awful as I witnessed the demeanor of my parents. What was happening to him? He didn’t appear sickly. I soon found out that Hemophilia is an incurable bleeding disorder. My brother was born with a rare, but mild form of this mysterious condition; he was one in 100,000 reported cases. Why him? For me, being scared was an understatement.

As quickly as he was diagnosed, a nurse began coming to our home equipped with information, guidance, and support. Boxes of medicine and supplies were being delivered in mass quantities to our address. One day I was concerned about whom I was going to hang with that night and the next I watched as family members tried to cope and understand a paralyzing situation. Alex, as well as my parents, had to become educated with his condition, learn to mix his medicine, and master putting a needle in his vein. He showed the same strength that he had shown playing an outside linebacker on the football field. The pinch of a needle was not going to stand in his way of what he had worked toward. He needed to either quit football or become a walking pin cushion getting three to four IV’s per week to keep his clotting factor at a “normal” range. Of course, Alex chose to continue playing. He loved this sport and loved his “brothers” on the field. My parents were torn with this decision but they put their faith in God’s hands.

My parents and Alex survived two more seasons of football. Alex was voted the recipient of the Frank Jones Award his senior year for his perseverance and leadership on and off the field. He graduated from high school last year and is attending the University of Arkansas. We exchange heart-felt messages and support each other from a distance. This experience has transformed my outlook on what really matters in life. It’s not the insignificant things that I took for granted that are important. It is my family and the way we all came together when one of our own needed us the most. It is the courage and determination I saw in my sibling that impacted how I try to live my life to this day. When I am tempted to complain about something remotely uncomfortable, I reflect on what he went through and continues to face. I have seen him struggle at times through something that would have brought me to my knees. Even before the diagnosis, I was always proud and excited to tell people, “This is my brother, Alex.” He continues to be my rock and will always be there for me no matter where life takes us. I strive to be the same rock for him as his little sister and his biggest fan.





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