From a young age, I was always encouraged to keep my diagnosis hush-hush. People would only know I had sickle cell if they needed to know. In my household, my diagnosis was always viewed as a setback. My parents did not want me to be discriminated against due to my health — they’ve seen that happen to many people with sickle cell. Although their intentions were good, I’ve found that telling people about my health is to my benefit.
However, as a result of learning to view sickle cell as a setback, many beliefs I had about my health were negative. I would mentally list out everything I was unable to do because of my health and, consequently, I would count myself out of many opportunities, assuming I would not be able to perform adequately. I would also view my body as an enemy — something I fought against — rather than my ally.
That’s a very counterproductive mindset. Many times, my failure to do something resulted from a lack of belief and effort, as opposed to actual inability.
Sickle cell warriors must have more positive discussions about health. We should stop emphasizing what we can’t do because of our health and instead celebrate all the things we’ve done and can do despite our health.
Once I made that perspective change, I became generally more optimistic and more open to trying new things. I would think twice before assuming whether I could partake in certain activities. I also started to realize how much good can come from sharing my sickle cell experiences, and that I could help many others in similar positions — that is what I went on to do.
Once we acknowledge the things we’ve done, we should celebrate ourselves a lot more! We know firsthand that having sickle cell is tough, but the fact that we can still achieve so much in our lives is nothing short of amazing!
When I look back and think of everything I have accomplished so far, I am very proud of myself, and I look forward to the things I have yet to achieve.
So in the spirit of World Sickle Cell Day, I want to celebrate us.
Feel free to comment below with anything that you have done and are proud of!
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.
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