Do you ever wish there was someone who truly understood what you were going through? Â Do you wish you could surround yourself with a support network of other women in your local area, but can’t find them? Do you wish you had more support from women in the bleeding disorders community?
In 2013, a group of women involved with the Hemophilia Foundation of Northern California (HFNC) had just these thoughts. With no budget and a dream of more programs for women in their community, they utilized manufacturers, home care companies, and local chapter funds to launch a series of woman to woman groups.
In two short years, Female Factor emerged as program of HFNC that brings women in our local bleeding disorder community together that are “affected & connected” by bleeding disorders. The motto for Female Factor was conceived by a widow in the community who still remains an integral part of the meetings.
In 2016, after members from the local chapter expressed even more interest in new material and activities, Female Factor needed to expand and get other resources together. Women wanted to volunteer, become more educated, and learn to be better advocates. With help from HFA’s Blood Sisterhood program, as well as other bleeding disorder programs, Female Factor is now able to tailor their events to even more local needs, providing the opportunity to bring in experts on subject such as yoga, time management, mental health and art therapy.
My first Female Factor event is one that I’ll never forget. I had no idea the impact just three hours could make and the bonds that would be made. It was a paint party located in a beautiful California town just forty-five miles east of San Francisco. The room was filled with women of all ages and personalities, coming together and bonding over one common goal — to share laughter, education, and support in the company of someone that had walked in their shoes.
The meeting started off with an HFA staff member talking about the Blood Sisterhood program and the importance of sharing your story and getting involved. It was obvious right out of the gate we were a group of women with a lot of opinions and ideas about what females in the bleeding disorder community need. These amazing women had watched loved ones pass, faced years of hardships with their own diagnosis, and were coming together to empower each other and make some changes.
After sharing our stories we moved onto the entertainment for the day, which was the paint party. There was such a perfect Zen of finding your inner peace and creativity, while breaking it up with moments of laughter amongst friends. I walked away from the day almost feeling like I was walking on air with great anticipation for the next event.
Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule and the vast mileage Female Factor is trying to cover, I’ve missed out on several events: a tea party, weekend retreat, and horse therapy, to name a few.
I was however recently fortunate enough to attend and participate when the Female Factor partnered up with the Women’s Bleeding Disorder Coalition to co-host an evening of education that ended with an hour of gentle relaxing yoga.
This woman’s retreat was nestled in downtown Santa Cruz and proved to be inspirational on so many levels. It was an evening filled with food, laugher, education, and relaxation all rolled into one. We had an amazing speaker come in and teach us about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the difference between grief and trauma and how our body processes it. I was also given the opportunity to speak to the group and educate them on Platelet Storage Pool Disorders. After the education portion was over we ended the evening with an hour of relaxing yoga. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
I’m so grateful for what Female Factor has brought to our community and I encourage other women to get involved and find a female program near you. Sometimes I drive more than two hours to get to an event and every mile is worth it. We are mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, and daughters — all coming together to educate and support one another. Â It’s a bond like no other.
My involvement with my local chapter has always been an extremely rewarding relationship. When I first started attending events, I was searching for experiences that would benefit my daughter whom was diagnosed with a rare platelet storage pool disorder when she was four years old. I wanted her to find peers that understood her struggles and would be there to support her as she grew up with the unknowns of this rare disorder.
Never did I think I would gain the bonds and friendships I have found through the other women in my bleeding disorder community. Many of us are so consumed with taking care of our children we forget the importance of nurturing our own souls in the process. Surrounding myself with other women who can make me laugh and support me when I cry has proven to nurture my soul on several different occasions. I anxiously wait to see them again.
Kari lives with her husband, Ryan, and 6-year-old daughter, Scarlett, and 2-year-old son, Walker, in California.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers