As I pondered and prayed over which topic I should share with you this week, I decided to distract myself by going on Instagram to see what was happening in the “world”. The first post I saw was a picture of a beautiful woman posted by Debra-Jane of Thinkmahogany Ghana and I quickly said to myself, “aww this woman is so beautiful,” and then I proceeded to read the caption. The caption was a farewell note to this young 35-year-old lady Jo-Anne Ata-Bedu who, I believe, has passed away.
I cannot confirm if it was due to sickle cell but the post talks about how Debra-Jane was motivated by this lady to create a Social Media Page for @SCDAwareness_Ghana #SCDAwarenessGhana to educate on #SickleCellDisease (SCD) and focus on the need for treatment and support in #Ghana. The organization can be found on Instagram - SCDAwarenessGhana.
As soon as I was done reading the caption, my heart did a back-flip. I was devastated and afraid! Anytime I hear of death, I feel very sad and begin to think about how life can be lost at any moment. But, when I hear about death associated with sickle cell, then I begin to panic. My life flashes before me and I begin to wonder, “this could have been me. I have sickle cell too…is it going to kill me soon?” I do not like to think like that, but unfortunately that is what comes into my mind.
This condition is not a joke, it is taking away both the young and the old. Occasionally, the reality of your condition just hits you and that is precisely what happened to me. This life is fickle and anyone can leave this earth anytime and in different ways, however please do not allow this to be one of the options. If you can avoid having children with the sickle cell condition, please try as much as possible to do so. Please check your genotype, I cannot stress on this well enough. CHECK YOUR GENOTYPE! In fact, check it multiple times from different sources. If you already have children with sickle cell, this is not to make you feel guilty at all. Just do your part to take care of them and God will do the rest.
I read on the Center for Disease Control's website https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/data.html that 1 in 13 Black or African American has the sickle cell trait. This means a considerable number of people have the trait, so you have to be informed about your decisions when it comes to marriage partners and reproduction. It is very important!
In spite of all of this, my God is very much ALIVE! I am still hopeful because there are positive things happening out there, a lot of research has been done over the years and medical experts are coming out with new treatments. A host Sickle Cell support groups have sprung up and there is a lot of information available about the condition, so informed decisions are being made and individuals with the condition are living their best lives.
I did not know Jo-Anne Ata-Bedu, but I can imagine the pain her family, friends and loved ones are going through. Please say a prayer for them and If you have lost anyone to sickle cell, I am very sorry. May God strengthen you. For me, I will continue the race, continue to be positive and spread my light wherever I go. Take care, my fellow warriors!