Introducing Georgia one of the winners of the Little Bleeders photography competition. Georgia is a wonderful example of how not letting haemophilia get in the way of your favourite activities will lead to great adventures and accomplishments. After only eight months of cycling, Georgia competed in her first race, the Scottish National Youth Tour of Scotland. The photo she submitted shows her competing in the race and is something she is very proud of since it was her first ever stage race. Since this photo was taken, she has gone on to compete in a few more races and has even had her first win!
Let’s learn more about Georgia:
What is your favourite activity?
My favourite activity is road and track cycling. Through cycling I’ve met people I never thought I’d be able to meet and it has given me something to really focus on and commit too. I have definitely caught the cycling bug! When I first started cycling it was all very new to me as I didn’t really have a background in sports, so I started with the goal of improving my fitness. Now that I’ve been cycling for a while, my new goals are winning and getting the most out of cycling as I possibly can!
Can you tell us about your haemophilia?
I have something called Von Willebrand disease, it is an inherited disease that means that my blood doesn’t clot properly. This disease plays a big role in my life as I have the most severe type, ‘type 3’. It was genetically passed down from my mother and I have had it since I was born. My two sisters also have Von Willebrand disease but they have type 1 which is less severe than my type 3.
Having Von Willebrand disease has caused me not to do any sports in the past because my doctors told me it was too dangerous. My blood levels were very bad when I was younger and I would often have long lasting nose bleeds, random bruising and lots of visits to the hospital. Now that I’m older it seems to have slowed down a bit, however I still experience all of the symptoms from time to time.
What are some of the challenges you and your family face with your blood disorder?
Well because it’s not only me with Von Willebrand disease, it has definitely affected the rest of my family. For example, my mum became very ill when I was younger as she had to have quite a few blood transfusions and she had to spend some time in the hospital.
I also have had to spend time in the hospital to have drips and bloods taken. I was always told to stay away from sports when I was younger but once I started cycling I didn’t want to stop, so I just have to be careful.
Having Von Willebrand disease means that I’m not aloud to visit certain countries just in case something happens and I can’t get blood there. This has limited where we can go on holiday, but we still manage to get out and have fun together.
My condition is very unique compared to what my mum and sisters have. While I may have the same disorder as my mum, I also have a very rare blood type that I inherited from my dad.
What are some of the challenges you face when it comes to getting to do your favourite activity?
One of the challenges that I face having Von Willebrand disease is that I tend to bruise easily so I have to stay well away from any contact sports like rugby, hockey and football. I need to keep an eye on myself so I don’t crash when training or racing or if find myself with a lot of bruising, but so far everything’s been fine (touch wood). Cycling is my passion so I am not going to let my disease stop me, in fact, I am hoping I can make a career out of the sport so I have to keep at it despite the risks, to me it’s worth it!
Who has helped and inspired you?
Alex Dowsett has made a huge impact in my life and inspires my cycling. When I first started cycling I was very wary and scared in case something did happen, but I soon found Alex on Instagram and also found an article in a cycling magazine about Little Bleeders which encouraged me to keep going. I’ve followed Alex’s updates on Instagram and other network sites regularly and I aspire to follow in the footsteps of him.
If I didn’t have a role model like Alex to look up to, I don’t think I’d have made it as far in cycling as I have. I think it’s very important to have a role model in the sport you do, for example, I’ve pushed my self harder knowing how far Alex has come with his career.
I also think Little Bleeders is an amazing organisation because of the support they provide and how they seem to really understand youth and grown ups who live with haemophilia.
Congratulations Georgia, keep up the amazing work, you are also an inspiration!