Tips on Living with Sickle Cell Anemia and Celebrities Living With It

CDC statistics estimated that 1 in 500 Americans had sickle cell anemia or sickle cell disease (SCD). Approximately, 100,000 Americans suffered from SCD with the rate being higher in the black-Americans than Hispanic-Americans.  SCD, a genetic blood disorder is inheritable and can only be managed. Its symptoms appear during childhood by evidence of jaundice, fever, or general body weakness. Therefore, it was recommended that if a person had a family history of sickle cell anemia, it was important to have a check-up immediately after birth. One of the challenges had been accessing comprehensive team care but with  current medical intervention, the situation became a lot better.

Tips on Living with SCD

Personal Health

Personal health referred to looking after yourself including, taking healthy foods, engaging in different physical activities and having a generally healthy lifestyle. Most doctors recommended leafy greens, plenty of fluids, regular workouts, and healthy sleep patterns. Actually, a glass of raw spinach juice, carrots, horseradish, and nettle would help in managing the production of red-blood cells. On the other hand, good workouts enhanced healthy blood circulation throughout the system and better when accompanied with fluids. Therefore, healthy lifestyles increased the victims’ life expectancy.

Things to Avoid

  1. Extreme changes in temperatures and situations that would lead to this exposure. For instance, it was safer to travel to places that had the same climatic conditions as the ones back home or it was advisable to slide into swimming pool than diving right in.
  2. Inasmuch as work outs were recommended, overdoing any activity was discouraged by ensuring plenty of rest after workouts and moderating on time spent walking around the block or jogging on a treadmill.
  3. Consulting with the medical team only during emergencies  but observe regular visits with them.
  4. Keeping too much to yourself. So if you feel worked up,  or stressed  talk to someone whom you can share your concerns or issues with.

Other Treatments for Pain Management

There have been many ways to manage pain including, acupuncture, massage, heat pads, warm baths or engaging in social activities such as facebook chats, Whatsapp, skype or having a friend come over.

Celebrities with Sickle Cell Disease and How they Fared

Most celebrities  who suffered from the blood disease understood the challenges of managing it. Some dealt with life-threatening experiences  while others took stride in educating others on how to manage the risks that came with some treatments. So far, most celebrities found pride and fulfillment in developing or being a part of SCD foundations and institutions. The passion for assisting those with the disorder made it a part of their lifestyle and reason to encourage those who wanted to give up.

T-Boz
(Image Credit: CyberTLC)

  1. Tionne T Watkins (T-Boz)

Watkins was born in 1970 in Des Moines, IO. She was diagnosed with SCD during her childhood that resulted in several hospitalizations. During her teen years, she began learning how to cope with the illness and its treatments. It was when she was 21 years old that she began her new career journey that not only saw her become a part of the famous trio TLC but also, joined the filming industry by being an actress in House Party 3 (1994) and Belly (1998).  During this time Watkins was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was eventually, successfully removed and that led her to be an advocate of SCD by being the spokesman of Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in 1996. However, in 2002 the famous trio lost one of them in an accident, Lisa or Left Eye which led to the group’s dissolution.

The Road so Far…

Watkins became one of the major advocates of SCD victims and one of her charitable events generated funds from her solo single, “The Champion” and the amounts were donated to the association and in assistance to victims with different blood disorders.

  1. Larenz Tate

Tate was born in 1975 West Side of Chicago. The famous actor drew his passion of acting from seeing how one of his classmates became famous after being hosted in the Cosy Show. Besides acting, Tate had been diagnosed with SCD which led to the formation of the Tate Brothers Foundation whose focus had been raising awareness on the disease.

The Road so far….

He pioneered “Be Sickle Smart: Ask About Iron” his main objective has been to educate others about the blood disorder and how to avoid iron overload. Iron overload occurs during blood transfusion and most of the times, it has been an unavoidable complication making it important to raise more awareness of its risks.

  1. Ryan Clark

Clark was born in 1979 in Marrero, LA. His passion for football traced back to Louisiana State University where he joined the college’s football team. Clark was diagnosed with sickle cell trait where most doctors assured him that it would never get serious. However, neither the medical team nor he knew the impact of climate change would have on him until his team went to play Denver, Colorado. He became bedridden for a whole month with his body temperatures soaring as high as 103/104 degrees Fahrenheit. The sharp change in the atmosphere due to low oxygen and high altitude cost the player his spleen and gall bladder.

The Road so far…

After losing his sister-in-law from SCD complications he began Ryan Clark’s Cure League which spent time and funds on research, awareness, and care for the disease. The loss of his organs forced him to quit football but that wasn’t the end of his career life because he had a job waiting for him as an analyst at ESPN.

Therefore, SCD could be managed depending on how well the victims managed it. It was possible for victims to exceed their life expectancy. In fact, the longest living survivor of the blood disorder was 86 years old. According to statistics; depending on the type of sickle cell disease and gender, the expectancy age range was between 42 to 68 years. However, despite the statistic, the life expectancy of SCD  victims mostly depended on how they managed the illness.

Most of the celebrities, including the oldest sickle cell survivor, were actively involved in the research and progress made on the disease meaning they had always been on the front-line on how to live longer. By sharing their insights, most of the SCD victims became aware and keener on how to live with it. The toughest battle had been pain management and iron overload but with supportive groups and teams, SCD hasn’t been a death sentence for a while. Every other day, became another chance to tell the world that it was possible to lead a long productive life despite suffering from the blood disorder.

Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness Infographic