Despite hemophilia and anxiety, my son keeps moving forward

A high school senior looks ahead to the next chapter

Cazandra Campos-MacDonald avatar

by Cazandra Campos-MacDonald |

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My husband pastors the local First United Methodist Church, where I serve as a deacon. When a parent (or two) goes down the pastoral path, their children are along for the ride. Some preachers’ kids love church, and others, not so much. My youngest son, Caeleb, falls somewhere in between. He runs the soundboard on Sunday mornings, and most of the time, he’s on his phone. I mean, he is a teenager.

During the service, congregants share their joys and concerns. People raise their hands, eager to share a moment of happiness, an answer to a prayer, or a prayer concern. Last Sunday, I was surprised at what happened during this time.

Caeleb raised his hand from the back of the church. I was shocked as I called on him to share. He asked the congregation to remember the students graduating and preparing for their next chapter. At that moment, I realized that Caeleb, a high school senior, was anxious about what was to come.

How did I miss that?

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Holding on to hope, even when we’re held captive by hemophilia

We’re no strangers to anxiety

Anxiety affects many people, though it’s especially prevalent among those like Caeleb who are living with hemophilia. He faces many concerns: “What if my factor doesn’t arrive in time? Will my joint bleeds keep me from playing basketball? Will I be able to manage my condition when I move away from home?”

Caeleb’s academic career has been marred by hemophilia. In second grade, he had numerous absences from school, as joint bleeds made it too painful for him to move. Complications from an inhibitor also made healing difficult. Each bleed took longer to heal, and managing pain at home was complicated. Missing school was necessary, but it curtailed the growth of his social and academic skills, which resulted in anxiety.

Fast forward a decade, and Caeleb’s senior year has been marred by missed school days. I never thought this problem would happen again. With chronic pain and loss of mobility, he’s been home for weeks at a time. He’s constantly working to catch up on schoolwork, resulting in heightened anxiety. Everything feels overwhelming for my son, and sometimes he shuts down.

Caeleb knows anxiety all too well.

Parenting children with hemophilia has also increased my own anxiety over the years. When Caeleb was in elementary school, I experienced it at unhealthy levels. I constantly worried about Caeleb, who was considered medically fragile. I wanted him to be in school as much as possible, but unfortunately, he spent a lot of time at home on the sofa or in the hospital, healing from joint bleeds and treating his pain. Managing Caeleb’s pain was challenging and kept my anxiety level high.

Today, Caeleb is working to manage his anxiety. He’s preparing for college and looking forward to the next chapter of his life. Hearing him speak with hope and excitement for what’s to come helps put my own anxiety at ease. I see that spending time with my son and talking about his future has eased both of our worries.

Every bleed, painful joint, and trip to the doctor may have cost him growth and fun in the moment. I know that his experiences, which many adults may never understand, have brought him to this point in his life.

I’m grateful for my son’s strength. Watching him continue to move forward despite hemophilia and anxiety makes me excited for what’s to come.


Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.

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