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Urban One Honors w/ Mary J. Blige



I was 10 when my parents told me I had sickle cell disease, and I had no idea what it was or the affects it would have in my life – especially when I became pregnant.


I have Hemoglobin SC disease. Many people aren’t aware, but there are different forms of sickle cell disease, and Hemoglobin SC is more or less the middle ground. When most people think of sickle cell disease, they are thinking of Hemoglobin SS, which tends to cause a more frequent and severe crisis. A crisis is when your blood cells literally sickle together and block the flow of oxygen in your body. This leads to excruciating pain in the area of the sickleing and can lead to organ failure, blindness, deafness or death. 

When I had my first major crisis as a teenager, my hematologist sat me down and talked to me about the importance of living my life to avoid being sick. He told me four major factors would determine if I lived a full and healthy life or if I lived a life full of complications from sickle cell disease. 

The first: Stress. Stress can take out the healthiest of people, so for me to stay out of the hospital, it was imperative I learn how to manage and control the stress in my life.

The second: High altitudes. This meant my dream of seeing Africa would happen only by sea. It’s a hard stipulation to live with, but National Geographic makes it a lot easier!

The third: Extreme cold climates. Aspen ski trips? Not me. But that one was no biggie; I detest the cold.

The fourth: Pregnancy. In no uncertain terms, I was told, would I never have a normal, 40-week pregnancy. And I didn’t. 

I met my Prince Charming when I wasn’t looking for love. I was single, sexy and “doing me.”  When I met him, I had no intention of getting married or having babies. Imagine my surprise when two years after our first date, we were happily married – and pregnant with our first baby. 

During my first pregnancy, I quickly realized that managing pregnancy and sickle cell was not going to be easy. I had my first crisis six weeks into the pregnancy, and we lost our baby at week 11 as a result of oxygen deprivation. It was devastating, but my faith, family and husband helped me heal. The miscarriage made me stronger for our next pregnancy and better prepared me to handle a crisis while pregnant.

As we got back to the joy of being newlyweds, God blessed us with another pregnancy! This time, the first sickle cell crisis hit at eight weeks, and as I laid in the doctor’s office praying not to lose our baby again, I found out we were having twins! 

I made up my mind right then that no matter how bad the pain got, I was going to have these babies. 

It took all the mental strength I had to overcome the physical pains that followed the next 24 weeks. I went to my hematologist every three weeks to check the oxygen levels of my blood cells. My husband and I had to talk to a genetics specialist. I received painful steroid shots to help develop the twins’ lungs. And I spent the entire first and third trimesters on bed rest. My boss and co-workers helped me manage my stress levels by being understanding and accommodating, but the time on bed rest was anything but restful. 

At 30 weeks, I went into a crisis that landed me in the hospital. I was scared but knew if I had …..  Story From……