As a Sickle Cell Patient, I Found Hope and Inspiration in a New Song

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by Dunstan Nicol-Wilson |

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Disease representation is essential in all aspects of life. Over the years, I’ve noted a few mentions of sickle cell disease in mainstream media by celebrities. I’ll never forget hearing “Hidden Pain” by A Star when it was released in 2019. It was the first time a song had encapsulated all the struggles I’ve faced with sickle cell.

A few Fridays ago, I discovered another song with a sickle cell reference! I love Fridays because they signal the weekend and new music. I was listening to a new song by Adekunle Gold, and one of the lyrics mentioned the disease. I thought I’d misheard it, because until then, I had no idea Gold had sickle cell.

In his new single, “5 Star,” Gold sings, “Many nights I go dey beg for mercy/ Sickle cell been show me crises.”

I replayed the song, then did some research. I learned that Gold fought sickle cell growing up and suffered the same misconceptions and challenges that many patients do. He’s spoken about being rejected by friends because they mistakenly thought sickle cell was contagious, and described the difficulties of growing up in an area with limited access to healthcare.

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My Journey to Self-acceptance With Sickle Cell

It’s hard to express how I felt while reading about his journey and listening to the song. Knowing an international superstar has been battling sickle cell privately all this time was a revelation. Firstly, I found a new favorite song for the week! But to delve deeper, it served as a new source of inspiration and a poignant reminder that there are no limits to what we can achieve.

I felt happy because the song will highlight sickle cell and the fantastic things patients do all the time. Many fans will reflect on past performances where Gold gave no hints that he was managing a debilitating condition. Hopefully, this will change perceptions of sickle cell and inspire those of us living with the illness to follow our dreams.

But in addition to my positive emotions, I also felt negative ones. I was sad that I could relate to the difficulties of managing a serious condition, to the isolation of keeping sickle cell private, and to the demands and pressure from others to be OK. How often did Gold have to hide and pretend, ensuring he wasn’t judged by record labels or contributors, to get to where he is today?

In a recent letter to his fans, Gold wrote, “It feels liberating to finally be able to share this part of my life with you, to finally be able to speak my truth.” The decision to share probably wasn’t easy, but Gold explained that he feels it’s the right time at this stage in his life.

Seeing a celebrity use his platform to talk about sickle cell disease is truly inspirational. Hopefully, it will help slowly erase the shame and stigma many patients face.

I’m grateful to Gold because he has renewed my passion for raising awareness and amplifying patient voices. A song like this would have helped the younger version of me feel much less alone. I hope both younger and older generations will continue to come forward and speak their truth without fear or shame.

Note: Sickle Cell Disease 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 Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.


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