UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The attached, black and white picture of little William Douglas Hodges has been staring up at me for a week. His mom wrote a brutally honest email.
"When I first found out I was having a boy I was elated," Sarah Jane Hodges said. "Before he was even born I imagined going to his football and soccer games."
Sarah says her boy seemed healthy at birth, but she soon knew something was wrong. Every time she picked him up he'd bruise.
"The doctor said it was normal, but I knew it was not," she said. "At his one-year checkup they pricked his finger to check iron levels. The levels were great, but his finger bled for six hours."
A battery of tests showed Will had Severe Hemophilia A, meaning he lacked the thing that causes blood to clot. There is no cure.
"I was devastated," Sarah said. "Those dreams of football and soccer vanished. All I saw was a reality of hospitals and medicine. Then I got smart . Then I turned back into a mom. I got off the pity-party train and decided I'd be there for Will at every twist and turn."
That's the part of the email I can't forget. How as a parent you have certain expectations for your child, and how guilty you must feel for becoming disappointed if you think they now won't happen.
That's not easy to admit. I appreciate her candor.
But back to Will. After the diagnosis he got a port – tricky surgery for someone with trouble clotting – and started treatments to avoid spontaneous bleeds in the joints. Three months later he got an angry-looking bruise over his port, a sign it was more severe than first believed.
Will, again only 4, is fully aware of what's going on. Sarah says he's incredible. That when you talk with him your spirits are lifted and you know he has a purpose.
"He does not let anything drag him down," she said. "He goes in-and-out of the hospital and deals with all kinds of medical procedures, but I promise if you meet my son your life will change."
She ended the note, "I am ultimately reaching out to you to raise awareness for Hemophilia. Sorry this is long. I just let my heart do the talking."
Okay, Sarah. Few things.
1) Never apologize for talking about your child from the heart.
2) Hemophilia. HEMOPHILIA. HEMOPHILIA!
3) Got it. The word is out. Awareness.
4) For anyone who wants to learn more, I did some research.
5) Go here for quick definition: http://tinyurl.com/haynvnq
6) Wikipedia for an overview: http://tinyurl.com/jaeofkt
7) Here for extensive info: https://www.hemophilia.org/
8) I'll post the other three pictures you sent in comments.
9) Will is at St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health Hemby Children's...? That's good news for you. He's in great hands.
10) Review #1. Never apologize.
Even if you don't think Hemophilia impacts your life, Sarah asks you remember the word because it greatly impacts the life of her family, and many others. Knowledge is power – Sarah works at The Charlotte Observer – and she's fully aware knowledge is power.
Thank you for educating us, Sarah. Send a picture from the beach. (They're going to Topsail Island in June for Will's first beach trip!) We'd love to see Will living life to the fullest. ?