Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month:How I Fought The Disease & Depression To Become A Super Survivor

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The month of September has been tagged as "National Sickle Cell Awareness Month" in the United States Of America. Nevertheless, Sickle Cell Disease(SCD) related support Groups and concerned activists from different parts of the world, have played an active role in spreading awareness and messages of hope globally since the month began. Generally defined as one of the inherited(genetic) conditions that affects the longevity of red(oxygen carrying) blood cells in humans, the presence of faulty  genetic sequencing leads to the formation of abnormal blood cells that eventually turn sickle-shaped under certain untoward conditions, leading to breakdown and consequently the shortage of implicated red blood cells (anaemia) in the body as well as, supply of oxygen to vital organs. This month, we bring you the true story of a SCD Warrior, who had to fight disease ignorance and depression to become a super survivor.

"By God's Grace I am a living testimony of Sickle Cell Disease(SCD) and  I tell this story as a 28 year old survivor who has practically being to the deepest parts of the disease pit and back.  As a child, living an everyday life with SCD was not easy. I couldn't live a normal life as most of my childhood days were spent in hospitals. My early school days were almost marred by absenteeism and this made my learning process somewhat slow. Whilst facing the frequent pain of bone crisis, I had to put in so much effort to keep up with school work. Thank God for my family,friends and teachers who served as back bone pillars, to give me all the support I needed at the time.  Although most of my classmates then saw me as the odd one out initially, which made things rather hard for me, some of the more mature ones eventually got to understand and in their own way became quite supportive. 

 My higher level  was a bit better because I already understood my body to an extent, so I was able to take care of myself health wise as well as,social too. I also  had to learn how to love myself  and put a smile on my face despite the pain of crisis I was going through.That was the only way I could survive. When I graduated from school, I could not get a job  
because I was not physically strong enough for the opportunities that came my way. Hundreds of thousands of healthy and strong Nigerians were jobless, talk less of what some will call a miserable sickler  like me.  This situation sent me down the dark path of self hate and for almost two years I was down with depression. I thought of giving up but thank God for  music(worship & praises songs). Every time I sang, I miraculously found the inspiration to carry on. I had shot everybody out and staying all day on my bed doing nothing was like  
hell.  I had to wake up from my slumber. I had to face my fear and eventually decided to go into what has now become my passion. I started catering and baking. Although it was and still can be stressful but life itself  is stressful, isn't it? I had to tell myself, my family and  friends this because of initial worry that I would breakdown. I had to however, take my  
stand and face my mountains. Thank God, today I have my own business..

With regards to my health, I try to maintain regular water intake  per hour and  
before bed. My diet is mostly conventional, with good consumption of  
fruits and vegetables every week. I bake but I try to avoid much junk food. I  
don't take alcohol. I do not smoke.I have a limitation on physical  
exercise and have not explored my stamina, so I don't  engage in activities like swimming, running, jogging or the likes. I enjoying travelling though; if you want to regard that as a hubby. Sickle Cell Crisis is now down to 1 or 2 episodes a year. Some people say I am lucky,as I have not required blood  transfusion at all. Pain is off and on but then I take simple pain medications which have really been helpful.  I have not had any addiction to pain killers as I have noticed with a few other persons with the genotype.

My greatest challenge care wise, has been financial  
constraints. I know that there are better modalities of care out there but for now, I can only make do with maximising friendships and taking maximum advantage of the relationship with people I meet at various sickle cell group and gathering. The support has been amazing. To every other person with the genotype, I say hang in there. There is better life here on earth beyond all the pain and together we would find it".

Via Bone Marrow Transplant Technology and suppression of the immune system, experts now believe that though expensive at the moment, the cure for SCD is now a reality that many thought will never come. A lot of research is currently ongoing ,as to how  cheaper and less complicated cure can be achieved. Hopefully, a generation of sickled red cells will permanently be replaced by normally shaped (biconcave) red cells and the love story to be told will be, happy from pain, forever after. 

For more information about: Sickle Cell Disease; World Sickle Cell Day- which was observed on the 19th of June and; Sickle Cell Awareness Month, kindly refer to the References below.

NHS| Sickle Cell Disease

SICKLE CELL ANAEMIA NEWS| Activities Underway In US For Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month

World Sickle Cell Day

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