At first blush, LaTia Bell is just like any other high school senior.
She keeps her grades up with college applications around the corner, and likes school, particularly science. She started playing tennis, and in her free time, she likes to read novels and find out about sharks — her favourite animal. Like the majority of other students in the U.S., the pressure is on to maintain, stand out, and excel as competition to obtain college entrance proceeds to grow more fierce.
What you can not see is that LaTia, despite all of her work ethic and excitement, is chronically fatigued all the time.
Her whole body is wracked with pain — when it is not, when it is cold — and even sometimes. She misses weeks of college. Even though she strives to become just like any other girl, LaTia’s sickle cell disease prevents that from being possible.
Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that can, to put it bluntly, make life hellish.
“It seems I always get ill around the important dates,” LaTia states, talking about her cell disease such as it’s a mischievous imp rather than a debilitating and difficult disease. “Usually when I’m ill, I miss at least three days of school. So it is hard. ”
Sickle cell disease is a genetic illness that prevents a individual’s red blood cells by getting elastic, round, and wholesome. Rather, they become stiff and crescent-shaped, unable to carry the amount of oxygen that the body needs and expiring off much quicker than healthy blood cells do.
The outcome is that fatigue LaTia is continually faced with, along with other symptoms such as regular pain resulting from a lack of oxygen causing muscles to grab. People young and older dwelling with sickle cell disease are also vulnerable to illnesses and strokes and need to take medications that can take more of a toll on the body.
The symptoms of sickle cell disease make even mundane tasks feel as though impossible feats. This past year, LaTia missed weeks of school and over a few tennis contests due to her sickle cell crises.
However, as a patient at the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where many young people are taught to manage their sickle cell disease, LaTia was taught to manage her symptoms. In addition, it helps that she has a great deal of confidence and drive to do what she enjoys.
“I don’t actually let it hold me back in my dreams and what I love to do,” states LaTia.
Her disease triggers, she has her heart set on studying biochemistry knowing full well that stress is one of the factors which send her to the hospital and could trigger her disease.
No matter she’s choosing to target high. “” I want to be a hematologist and a marine biologist,” she states. “I anticipate it to be somewhat stressful, but I’m just ready to bring it on.”
LaTia also hopes that she can use her passion for knowledge and learning to someday help others like her.
There is no cure for sickle cell disease — just improvements in pain treatment that could produce the disease a lot easier to manage. But she wants to help find a cure.
“Sickle cell doesn’t only impact the sufferers. It affects the families too,” she states. “nobody from the family likes to see a kid experiencing such a dreadful disease.”
“I am doing it to the patients and to the households.”
Though her disease is beyond her control, up to now, LaTia has been able to do everything she wants — it is simply more of a challenge.
Supported by the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center, with compassionate care and patient education and counseling, she has managed to chase her dreams with assurance.
Heading into her future, she’s confident in her ability to continue accomplishing. “I feel invincible,” she states.
She hopes that finding a cure is within her reach. “I do a whole lot of spreading awareness through social networking and things,” she states. “I want people to know about sickle cell and perhaps help make a change.”
One thing she’s certain of is that she will be one of the people regardless of the obstacles in her way. “Sickle cell has made me feel down a great deal, but you can overcome anything,” she states. “That is what I’ve learned — that anything could be overcome.”
To find out more about sickle cell disease or the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, see choa.org/fightsicklecell.
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