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Pfizer 2015 Take a Helpful Break contest: Kerilynn Mercer from Newfoundland - Grand prize winner


THE MERCER FAMILY STORY  – “We’re in this together!”


Kerilynn Mercer’s son Ethan was barely one day old when he was diagnosed with hemophilia and transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where he stayed for twelve days.  While this experience was very overwhelming for Kerilynn and her husband, Peter, they agreed that hemophilia aside, Ethan’s happiness would remain their primary concern.

“We have accepted Ethan’s hemophilia for what it is and have learned to embrace it and live with it,” said Kerilynn. “We are thankful that he is a healthy little boy.”

In support of Ethan’s happiness, Kerilynn remained dedicated to ensuring that her son’s life was as normal as possible.

“Because of my family history, hemophilia is something I was familiar with. Although so much has changed in the last twenty-five years, I was aware that there were a lot of advancements,” said Kerilynn. “We knew we would have to adjust some things in our lives, but to us that was minor. We like to do whatever we can to ensure Ethan has a very ‘normal’ life and that he isn’t singled out or treated differently because of his hemophilia.”

“Ethan is only 14 months old so he still isn’t aware of his bleeding disorder. While I am sure he will meet challenges throughout his life because of his hemophilia, Peter and I will do whatever we can to help him overcome these obstacles. We’re in this together!”

As Ethan is such an active boy, Kerilynn and Peter were initially concerned about what to expect once he became mobile. They soon realized that his bleeding disorder clearly hasn’t slowed him down – he started walking non-stop and loves to explore!

Kerilynn recently participated and won first place in the fourth annual Pfizer Take a Break Facebook contest in partnership with the Canadian Hemophilia Society. Throughout the voting period, they encouraged their friends and family to get involved in supporting their entry while also educating them about bleeding disorders.



“I think that [the Pfizer Take a Helpful Break contest] is great! Not only does it allow a family to potentially win money to fund a personal improvement project – as well as a donation to their local chapter – it also spreads the word and helps educate others about bleeding disorders,” said Kerilynn. “I have nothing but positive feedback from family and friends about the contest; they are so eager to learn about Ethan’s hemophilia!”

Since Ethan is so active, the family will be using the winning funds to create a safe outdoor play area/environment for Ethan. They will be purchasing rubber materials to cover the ground surface as well as a play area for him to enjoy. With any leftover funds, they will also be looking to put a fence and gate around the yard to ensure that it’s extra safe and secure.

The Mercer family is very involved in the hemophilia community and participates in various fundraisers. Kerilynn also writes a blog and has a Facebook group about her son to help educate people and raise awareness about hemophilia.

With her entry supporting the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter, Kerilynn and her family are very interested in becoming more active chapter members over time.

“We want to ensure that Ethan is treated the same as everyone else, and educating people can help with that. We are grateful for the overwhelming support from the community, friends and family in this recent Take a Break contest”.

Congratulations to the Mercer family on their win in the Pfizer Take a Helpful Break contest!





Pfizer 2014 Take a Happy Break: Jenny Jacobs – Second-prize winner from Newfoundland


THE STORY OF THE JACOBS FAMILY

When Jenny Jacobs’ son Caleb was just six months old, she noticed a large bruise at the back of his head. An immediate visit to the family physician’s office and subsequent blood test later revealed that Caleb’s partial thromboplastin time (PTT) well exceeded the average length and he was diagnosed with severe hemophilia.

“The shock of learning that Caleb had a bleeding disorder was tremendous, because at the time we were unaware of any family history and didn’t know where to turn,” said Jenny. “I learned that I was an asymptomatic carrier and any sons I had would have a 50% chance of being born with hemophilia. My older son Jayden does not have a bleeding disorder, so we had to learn a great deal all at once about preventing injuries, daily infusions and what Caleb’s life would be like.”

Jenny was committed to ensuring that hemophilia would not stop Caleb from having a rich childhood and sought to find a balance between safe activities and Caleb’s passions.

“I don’t want Caleb’s hemophilia to be the reason that he doesn’t explore his interests and develop certain skills that other children have,” said Jenny. “Caleb has really taken to dancing and enjoys tap and hip-hop most. Having hemophilia doesn’t mean that he can’t participate in activities with his friends, it just means that we have to proceed with caution when trying new things to protect his joints.”

“Raising two young boys – one with a bleeding disorder and one without – is not without challenges, and it is hard to decide which activities both boys can participate in,” adds Jenny. In fact, she sometimes has to limit the activities that Jayden does because Caleb, like any younger brother, wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Luckily, Jayden and Caleb share similar interests and can usually find activities they are both interested in that are safe for Caleb – such as video games.

In their personal time, the Jacobs family participates in their local community to raise awareness of hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. They recently participated and won second place in the third annual Pfizer Take a Happy Break contest hosted on the CHS Facebook page. They encouraged their friends and family to get involved to educate others about bleeding disorders while supporting their entry.

“I first heard about the Pfizer Take a Break contest three years ago when it was first launched. We entered the contest every year and tried to win by encouraging friends and family to vote for us,” said Jenny. “I guess as the old saying goes, ‘third time’s the charm’!”

By winning second place in the Pfizer contest this year, the Jacobs family received prize money for a personal improvement project for Caleb, and they happily put it towards an activity he loves. “We have enrolled Caleb in dance classes,” said Jenny. “Hip hop and tap in particular,” she adds. Caleb, now age five, enjoys activities with friends, dancing, swimming, and soccer.

   

An active advocate in her community, her entry also supported the Newfoundland and Labrador Hemophilia Chapter with matched funds. Jenny serves as the vice president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter and a member of the national Chapter Relations Committee.