While people all over the country were celebrating Labor Day this past Monday, this entire month has been set aside as Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Thousands of people will partake in various campaigns throughout the month to help spread the news, and champion the cause of both raising money for research, as well as speaking up about this still heavily neglected chronic illness that affects millions of people of African and Mediterranean descent.
Throughout the United States, there will be walk-a-thons, skate-a-thons, #BoldLipsForSickleCell, Wear Red Days, and even the annual Sickle Cell Symposium in Baltimore, MD. The symposium is a major effort to educate both the medical community, as well as the public of all of the innovations being made, as well as the state of where things need to go so that families affected have the best information and resources that are available.
As I’ve begun to dedicate more of my own blogging to things that are Sickle Cell Awareness based, I realize how much more of a labor of love it can be. This isn’t just in the area of making people aware and giving voice to this often neglected illness. It is a labor of love in the sense that I begin to connect even more with the community that I’ve been a part of my entire life. The more I share, the more people I come into contact with who are going through the same battles that I’ve faced, and some I’ve not. There is empathy, sympathy, and a heart that is met with greater compassion to pray for/with those like me.
We fight battles every day that few will ever even grasp. Sickle Cell is nothing like Cancer, ALS, Leukemia, HIV/AIDS or any other thing you can try to imagine. My greatest prayer is always that a cure is found, even as I know that I and others hold fast to our faith that God is able to do exceeding and abundantly above anything we can ask, hope, or imagine. I also pray that in the meantime He always grants us the strength to endure, overcome and lean on His strength when ours is not enough to bear the burdens of our weakest moments.
I honor every Sickle Soldier who continues to fight their fight in grace and humility. I pray the more for those who have yet to find the hope that is in Christ Jesus alone. I also pray that in this month, a greater light will be shown on the Sickle Community at large so that people will not only have respect and understanding, but also open arms and hearts to lift up everyone that fights with heart.
If you happen to see me or anyone on the streets who lives with Sickle Cell, feel free to let us know that you love us, are praying for us, and are standing with us. Your words of encouragement go a long way to lifting our spirits and making us smile even in those moments when it is hard to do. As you pray for us, you can best believe we’ll be praying for you.
QUESTION: Do you know someone with Sickle Cell? How will you honor them this month and beyond?