September: Sickle Cell Awareness Month

September: Sickle Cell Awareness Month

There’s a disease that affects approximately 100,000 people in this country and millions more across the globe. It’s an illness many have never even heard of, it’s entirely based on genetics, and it’s arguably the most underserved medical population in the world. I bring you the incredibly painful and often deadly Sickle Cell Anemia experience.

Many of us learn about red blood cells and hemoglobin in our middle and high school science classes, but too many of us never learn about how these two chemicals (due to a hereditary mutation in the bloodstream) fail the organs (most of the time leading to premature deaths) and always delivers unimaginable pain in the everyday life of someone with sickle cell.

In the non-sickle cell body, the hemoglobin in our red blood cells run smoothly without us thinking much about it. In sickle cell bodies, hemoglobin in red blood cells clumps up, creating havoc in the bloodstreams and leading to painful sensations that can easily be compared to passing a kidney stone. The only difference is that the pain can be experienced anywhere in the body on any given day, and we as a nation and the world at large have so little research and money into treating sickle cell. Necessary relief is crawling at a snail’s pace.

Currently, the most prevalent treatment plan for sickle cell anemia is pain management (which is the utter misery it sounds like with daily pain on a continuum from barely tolerable to immense) coming across as a cocktail of vitamins, antibiotics, and oral hydration.

What’s necessary is more research, money, and donors who can administer life-changing and life-saving miracles that include blood transfusions and hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT).

People who have died or are currently suffering from sickle cell include: Miles Davis, T-Boz from the Grammy Award winning group TLC, NFL legend Tiki Barber, actor Larenz Tate, musician Prodigy from Mobb Deep, singer-songwriter Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, and artist Paul Williams.

For more information and more ways to help the sickle cell population still suffering in silence, please visit or or

“To be open and transparent is tough. To be vulnerable is tough. To show your weakness is tough. There’s a proverb that says that if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And the only way that we as people can address sickle cell is if we go together.” – Rev. Jimmie L. Williams