DEBUNKING MYTHS 2: Sickle Cell Patients Die before their 20th Birthday and Living with the Label of “Half Die and Living Corpse.”

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Only very few people can ever truly relate to the agony and dread that characterize a life whereby a constant refrain is ‘you will die anytime soon’.
Nowadays, doctors make prognoses about certain conditions and illnesses like cancer. People suffering from such conditions are often given a specific time frame to live.

This is not the case with sickle cell patients. From the moment their condition is diagnosed, it is as if they are already one step closer to meet their maker, just from the looks and sometimes thoughtless comments sent their way. It is not even the least funny, to be constantly made to feel like each breathe you take is going to be your last.
A few months ago, I got engaged in a debate spearheaded by me on chronic disease sufferers and Stigma. It was interesting to note the varying degrees of comments and emotions that ensued. It was even more interesting to note that, despite living in an advanced medical and informative society, people’s attitude about sickle cell sufferers was still wrapped. Many referred to sickle cell warriors as ‘living corpses and half dies’ who probably have no right being born in the first place.

Understandably, life as a sickle cell is not easy and the constant threat of death is very much present despite medical advances. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to say that, from the moment we are all born, be we sicklers or not, life is a risk. We can die within hours of birth or live right up to 100 years and above.

It is disheartening to say the least that, when some people know you are a sickler, they look at you as if the next step you take leads you six feet under. The general view is that sickle cell sufferers cannot live above their 20th birthday and most often, if they do, their life span is expected to be between 42 for men and 48 for women.

I have received my own share of ‘dropping dead at any moment look’ and

was not expected to even be alive today. But then let’s take a check;
10 Years

20 years 

30 years 

40 years? … Getting there and planning to get well beyond.

Can I hear someone say keep dreaming? Well, dreams keep hope alive and hope makes us achieve the impossible.  I was recently tagged by Ms Monique Kwachou on a facebook post and following that link, I was more than impressed and even more hopeful. Oldest living person with sickle cell is 86!
That link took me to more discoveries of people with sickle cell beating the odds and living well into old age. You can check it out here:

Even in Africa, I have watched a then 60 years old man feature in MNET’s ‘Moments with Mo’ on sickle cell diseases. And I do know a few people who are well above 40 here in Cameroon still waxing strong. So all you brave warriors out there, keep fighting! If someone calls you living corpse or half die, just smile and move on. And when those agonizing battle pains strike and everyone looks at you as if you are already dressed to attend the heavenly banquet, smile still and tell them to relax because we are too mean hmmm I mean too stubborn to die!

The battle may be long and some may fall on the way, but the fight goes on. Keep the positivity, keep the faith. Anyone of us can also live to see our children’s children!


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