Spotlight: Jerry McMillan Jr.
To celebrate March as Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month, we are conducting short Q&As to learn more about members of our community!
This week, we’re interviewing Jerry McMillan Jr!
What and when was your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with Hemophilia B, which is a rare blood clotting disorder in 1975 at the age of six months old. I was born in Elizabethtown, North Carolina and when I was diagnosed, it was by way of a head bleed that occurred either when I was crawling and bumped my head or I was dropped by a relative.
What does bleeding disorders awareness month mean to you?
Bleeding Disorders Awareness month can mean many things but I believe that it is the best time to advocate for those blood disorders that are not receiving the “big bucks” in research grants and money. I know that a disease like sickle cell anemia is very serious and they raise much awareness and money for it every year. I know also on the other end of the spectrum that a blood disorder like Von Villebrands disease, which is very serious and affects many men and women isn’t know about or much money isn’t raised by the people who matter in the media. I think this is why Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month is very vital because those not publicized blood disorder and diseases are able to be given a forum and people are able to find out what these illnesses are and how to raise money for a cure. I emphasize that a cure is the goal!
What is the best part about being part of the bleeding disorder community and how has have a bleeding disorder shaped your life thus far?
The best thing about about being a member of the community is the actual community itself. There is a family aspect to this community and that is a beautiful thing. I have been active since my first NYC Blood Brotherhood meeting in 2008 and I have not looked back! I also like having a chance to speak with the people in social media format and let them know what goes on with me and other people with Hemophilia. Having a bleeding disorder is a painful thing most of the time because when I have bleeds and I have to sit home from job or a family activity, the pain is not only physical but mental. That feeling of not being “good enough” to complete the work or task for your family is always going to hurt me. I am still going to be a strong Black man always but that part of not being able to control this bleeds hurts.
What advice would you give to parents of children with bleeding disorders?
The advice I would give parents of Hemophiliacs is to let your children be children. I have seen so many instances where parents are being “helicopter parents” and they overprotect their children to the point where they have so much protection on them it’s not funny. I also see a trend on social media, I am a fan of using it for good reasons like celebrating our children and their accomplishments but as people in the bleeding disorders community I think we sometimes are prone to place every aspect of the child’s life on social media. I would say that social media has its place but don’t become a slave to it. Yes I know that I have a social media page but I very seldom use it unless I see something worth posting.
About Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month
In 2016, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially declared March as Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month! This month aims to foster a stronger sense of unity among all individuals in our community, and to elevate awareness to the general public. Learn more here.