Update on Kirstie from Lima NY
In 2007, Gardasil was a new vaccine which was supposed to make you one less girl who had to worry about cervical cancer. My parents thought it would be a wonderful way to protect me as I grew up. How could we have known the first injection would set off a chain of events that would alter my life forever?
At 12 years old, sports were a huge part of my life. Basketball, soccer, softball, dodge-ball, lacrosse – you name it. If it involved outdoor recreation, you could probably find me there.
I got my first Gardasil shot on the 23rd of April 2007. Shortly after, I started getting strange bruises on my arms and legs. No one thought much of it because we all assumed I had been injured playing the sports I so dearly loved. None of us thought it might be connected to the vaccine I had recently received.
May 29, 2007, I received the second injection. The unusual bruising got worse. Over the weekend of June 29th and 30th I hemorrhaged for two hours during each day. When I went to the doctor on Monday, they immediately sent me to the hospital to meet with a pediatric hematologist. I left the hospital with a diagnosis of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP).
According to the Mayo Clinic, Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), also called immune thrombocytopenic purpura, is a blood-clotting disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding. ITP results from unusually low levels of platelets — the cells that help your blood clot.
Because of my low platelet count, I could not play any of the sports I loved for over a year. This was very hard for me to understand and accept. It made me very sad not to be able to participate in the activities that I loved. It was difficult to watch everyone else playing and having fun, while my activities were being limited.
Looking back, I can see how when one door closes, another opens. Because I couldn’t play sports, I had extra time to do other things. I discovered a passion for music and began to take private voice lessons and a musical theater class. Since I was unable to play sports, I began to focus on singing and performing.
In the past few years, I have become a very successful classical singer. I have won some prestigious awards and have been accepted into some excellent colleges for vocal performance with a concentration in music education, or music therapy. Had it not been for the extra time I had, I may have never have discovered my musical talent. Now, I focus most of my energy on singing and the performing arts. I am not sure that would have happened if my life had not been changed by ITP. My career path has definitely been influenced by the diagnosis which set me on a path that I am pleased to be on.
When I was first diagnosed, I had to have a treatment in the hospital. A music therapist was working with another young patient nearby, and I thought that it was a very interesting occupation. I often think about combining my passion for music with my love of children and focusing on either music education, or music therapy in college.
I had the opportunity to work with kids as a counselor at a 4-H camp, a teacher’s helper at a “Kid’s College” summer program and as a junior high student director for our school’s junior high musical. My personal life experiences help me to relate to children and understand some of their problems. I have become more accepting of people and definitely more caring toward people with difficulties. I have acquired a positive outlook and a joy for life that will enable me help those who are struggling with their own issues.
Both of my parents are high school teachers and enjoy working with students. Although I had never thought about teaching, I am now seriously considering it as an occupation. I see the positive impact teachers can make on young people. I know teachers play a very important role in our lives and I would love to share my passion for music, theater, sports and life with children from all walks of life.
I have learned some valuable life lessons through my experiences with ITP. One of the biggest lessons is that just because things don’t go the way you want; it doesn’t mean that your ‘new’ life won’t be better.
I joined the Junior Varsity and Varsity Soccer and Softball teams, even when I couldn’t play because my platelets were too low. Some months I had my blood tested each week, just in case my platelets were high enough to be cleared to play. I learned that even through all of life’s disappointments, you can still keep a positive outlook and make positive contributions to your team.
I learned to look at the good things in life, even though I was very sad about the way my life had changed.
I learned that each day is a new challenge. When I could finally play soccer and softball again, I truly appreciated the opportunity and gave my all during practices and games. I am a successful soccer goalie and softball pitcher. I was so glad to be able to play sports during my junior and senior years of high school. I appreciate all that I am finally able to do again.
I learned that if you set high standards for yourself, anything is possible. I know my platelets can drop at any time, changing the activities I can participate in. Now, I have enough other interests that I know I will be fine no matter what happens.
Although I will have ITP for the rest of my life, I am otherwise a very healthy person. I feel blessed to be able to go to school every day and participate in a broad range of activities. I believe my experiences with ITP have transformed me into a positive role model. I will graduate from high school 7th in my class and am looking forward to going to college in the fall. It is exciting to begin a new chapter in my life.
ITP has changed my life in more good ways than bad. I have learned to overcome hardship and disappointments. I believe that my trials and triumphs with ITP have made me a stronger person. I look forward to the future.
Narelle Hetherington says
Thank you for sharing such an amazing story – and I am glad you are speaking out about your experience with vaccinations and the outcome for such a beautiful girl is to share your voice and yourself with others through music. My heart is singing for you : )
Priscilla Cobb says
This is a very beautiful girl, inside and out! To be given a permanent disease from a vaccine and just find alternatives and be positive is more than many, many adults ever achieve. I am happy that her parenting allowed her to be all she can be, despite physical encumbrances. It is not right, however that a health protection maneuver causes permanent disease. This vaccine should be taken off the market and extensive studies done by an impartial party!
You are in many ways luckier than many. There have been more and more reports on the various websites here of the number of deaths from Gardasil. The sad thing I also remember that parents of public school young girls were actually told they would go to jail unless they could show proff that their child had been given the vaccination. This happened in DC..known as our nation’s capital.
While this is a wonderful story of embracing the path of the newly opened door, I don’t understand why she doesn’t put at least some energy toward making people aware of this harmful vaccine so others can be spared the disease brought on by inoculation.