Jamie van den Berg
I am 25 years old and live in the Netherlands. My girlfriend Sabrina and I are very happy and recently moved in together. I have von Willebrand Disease, an inherited bleeding disorder, and recently went to my first meeting of the von Willebrand patient group of the Netherlands Hemophilia Society, the NVHP.
During the meeting, I was asked what type of von Willebrand I am suffering from and I could not really answer that question. I know I have von Willebrand and have been able to handle that quite well. I do not see it as an obstacle and would not want to call it that. The only thing I find frustrating is that my parents did not allow me to join the soccer club when I was young. I am sure I would have made the Dutch national team by now. Soccer was not going to work, so I had to choose a different sport, which was swimming. I did that for a number of years, after which I felt a need for a challenge and started canoeing first on calm waters, and then in the ocean. By the time I was 15 years old, I was a wild water canoe instructor in Slovenia.
Looking back, my parents should have just let me play soccer, since that would have been conveniently close to the Academic Hospital in Leiden. Instead, I was 15 and in Slovenia, without my parents. Despite not having been able to start my soccer career, I have done everything I wanted and have not allowed von Willebrand to stand in my way. I have conquered the wildest rivers, climbed the highest mountains in Europe, traveled through Australia by myself for three months, and enjoyed snowboarding, despite getting stuck on a mountain for a night. To me, von Willebrand Disease has become part of me, or better, has always been part of me.
Source: World Federation of Hemophilia