ABOVE PHOTO: Chelsee Nabritt
Everyone faces their own journey in life. This journey will likely have hurdles of many kinds. These hurdles can knock you down, but with the right mindset and attitude, they can never keep you down. In fact, they can actually make you stronger.
Chelsee Nabritt has been overcoming hurdles since birth. Born two months early, she remained in the hospital due to heart issues and seizures. Nabritt also suffered with respiratory distress syndrome and was on a heart monitor for one year after birth. Her parents thought she was out of the woods when she was released from the hospital and she seemed healthy for many years. Then when she turned 7, she began experiencing severe nose bleeds regularly.
“My mom was terrified and took me to the hospital where I was diagnosed with platelet storage pool disorder,” Nabritt said. “It’s among the rarest of rare bleeding disorders, but part of a larger group of over three million people in the U.S. who have bleeding disorders ranging from the rare ones like mine to hemophilia and von Willebrand disease. What we share in common is our blood doesn’t clot normally, which can result in spontaneous bleeding into muscles and joints, and extended bleeding after an injury or surgery. It can even be fatal.”
Nabritt has always remained positive. Along with her healthcare team, she has learned to manage her condition. At age 7, she began attending Hemophilia of Georgia’s Camp Wannaklot, where she met other kids with bleeding disorders for the first time, including only one of two individuals she knows of with platelet storage pool disorder. This helped her realize she’s not alone.
Whatever journey you are on, you will face unexpected hurdles. Staying positive and keeping your head high is important. Nabritt shares some of her life rules for overcoming obstacles and becoming the best person you can be.
Choose to be happy
“With a better understanding of my chronic disease, I made a choice. I chose to be happy and live my life without barriers. Had I chosen darkness over light, or let negative thoughts overshadow the positive ones, I’d only be hurting myself and those who love me,” Nabritt said.
Give the gift of time to others
“The greatest gift you can give someone is your time,” Nabritt said. “I remember how older kids helped me better understand how to live my best life regardless of my bleeding disorder, and I decided to do the same.
“At 18, I was old enough to transition from being a camper to a camp counselor at Camp Wannaklot. And when the National Hemophilia Foundation issued a call for membership to its National Youth Leadership Institute (NYLI), I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve used my NYLI platform to lead workshops for young community members on public speaking and advocating with legislators, and to share my own experience.”
Pursue your passion pragmatically
“You owe it to yourself to pursue your passion, but as you follow your heart, you have to use your head and work hard,” Nabritt said. “Right now, my dream is to one day pursue public office so I can create policies that enable people with bleeding disorders to live healthy, productive lives. I’m taking it step-by-step and that includes finishing my sociology degree before pursuing a dual master’s.”
The grass is green enough where you are
“There have been times I’ve envied people without bleeding disorders. But I quickly realized that I had no way of knowing if these people lived better lives than me, nor should I waste any more time thinking about it. I always strive to reach for the stars, but I also know it’s important to keep my feet on the ground and do the best I can, where I am, with what I have.”
Using the community’s symbol-the red tie-plus advocacy and passion to advance her cause
This year is a very big year for Nabritt. She’s graduating from college and working with NHF to mark its 70th anniversary by serving on the planning committee for its 70th Bleeding Disorders Conference in October. Nabritt also is using her leadership and advocacy skills to promote NHF’s Red Tie Campaign. The campaign aims to help galvanize a bipartisan Congressional majority to act decisively to protect access to affordable, quality healthcare for not only people with bleeding disorders, but all 150 million Americans with chronic conditions.
“I’m urging everyone to get involved by visiting www.RedTieCampaign.org to make a donation, show us their best red tie style using NHF’s virtual photo booth, and then share their photos with #RedTieCampaign. To protect our access to healthcare, we must work together, now,” said Nabritt. “As John Lewis once said, ‘If not us, then who? If not now, then when?’”