The world is full of extremely courageous people who not only live, but thrive amid very agonizing health challenges. I happen to know quite a number of them, and they serve as one of my most effective motivation sources. One of those challenges is sickle cell anaemia.

 Today is world sickle cell day, and one of my friends has written a heart moving piece for us, it’s a story of finding light in a dark place, it moved me, I know it’ll move you too.

To all my sickle cell heroes!


Growing up I felt special, because that was how my parents treated me; it wasn’t preferential treatment per se because they treated us all equally, I wasn’t exempted from any house work except the very strenuous ones. As early as primary school I knew I had sickle cell anaemia but that was all there was to it. I grew up a normal kid who had special needs, because that was how they saw me, my siblings included. It continued this way until secondary school, that was when the feeling of something might be wrong with me started coming to me; schoolmates will tease, at times, attitude of some teachers. Then there where those who felt I will die anytime soon and thus treated me like I was a piece of china- breakable. People’s attitude got to me more than the condition itself; I didn’t know how to deal with it but the genetic counsellors we worked with came to my rescue. It was sometime in senior secondary that I started dealing with the issue of having sickle cell anaemia. Attending the club meetings that we had back then helped because it was an opportunity of meeting people with the same challenge as me and learning how they are dealing with it; there was this comfort that came from the knowledge that am not alone.

I was able to come to terms with it when I understood that God loved and accepted me the way I was, I didn’t have to change or become healthier for him to love me. He showed me that I could live healthy and above sickle cell anaemia. On my own I couldn’t have dealt with the condition, I still lack words to describe the pains, the depression that sets in during and after crisis; the urge to give up living at times in the midst of the pains; the guilt of  falling ill one time too many but a combination of some factors has helped me thus far and will keep me in years to come; most importantly the God factor, the family factor and the friendship factor, all these combined with the services of the medical personnel have been my mainstay.

Like I said the pain of sickle cell crisis is hard to describe, it’s a pain you wouldn’t wish anybody no matter how much you hate that person but having access to services of capable and humane medical staff helps; I will like to say here that the staff of haematology department, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital(UNTH) is among, if not the best members of the medical community, from the doctors to the least person in the department and you know it’s good to have a doctor that understands or even feels your pain, these ones do.

Being knowledgeable about sickle cell disease really helped, my parents were able to take care of me while growing up because they had a fair knowledge of the condition, knew what to do and when. Likewise the knowledge I have obtained about this health challenge has helped me in how I manage and care for myself.

Staying positive during crisis is important, in fact it is very critical to coming out of that episode of pain successfully because ordinarily it is easy to get discouraged in life when you face situations that are challenging not to talk of when you have to deal with an issue you never bargained for, which you wouldn’t even have agreed to in the first place.

 I’ve learnt to play the hand that life has dealt me and I aim to play it   very well. The late pastor Bimbo Odukoya once said when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade out of it. One of the things I had to deal with during crisis was discouragement in the severest form; at this point one actually gets to the thin line between life and death. You begin to wonder the point of living if it’s filled with pain (this was my cousin’s last statement before his death), at such times I find myself asking what the point is? Why live? What do I have to live for? One person that answers these questions for me is God. Having God in my life gives it a meaning. I discovered that the essence of life, finding fulfilment in life lies in being a blessing to others. I am able to handle life better when it is focused out and not solely on my person.

The love and support of my family is another thing that has kept me going, in my fourth year in school, I had a crisis episode that was very bad; I had come to the point that I knew this was it. I was weak and tired of the whole thing, I went over my life; I remember asking myself what I was living for. Should I stay or go? What have I achieved and all that. As I was thinking of all these, I thought of my dad, my mum, my siblings, of how far we’ve come in this fight for survival, I just encouraged myself and endured the pain; am still here today and will still be around, God willing and He does. My parents taught me to be independent, to do things for myself; they guided me in a career path that required mostly mental effort and less of physical effort;  so that should I leave home and stayed on my own, or in the event of the inevitable, I could cope.

Things I observed when I started interacting with people of the same condition were that some didn’t have the familial support I enjoyed; they were considered a curse because of the toll their health had taken on the family’s finances. You can imagine what it feels like to be called onwu-death, by the ones who are meant to love and protect you. Some are resentful towards their parents saying they are the cause of their problems; there are feelings of guilt amongst parents and the children alike. Quite a number of us are without skills and thus the means of sustenance, therefore in need of empowerment.

Developing a healthy self esteem, being optimistic about life- choosing to live each day, avoiding self-pity; having set goals, targets and projects also helps to give one something to look forward. Also it’s the mindset you have built up when strong that will help you come through when weak or in crisis.

One of the blessings I have enjoyed in life has been the gift of friendship, I have a lot of friends, they are all aware of my health status. My friends add colour and flavour to my life; when it gets that bad, I always have someone to talk to. Life would have been very boring if I didn’t have them around, nevertheless I know my limits. Being aware of my health challenge helped them in being sensitive to my needs, they know I can’t handle a lot of stress or anything that would lead to physical exertion, and as much as possible they help me take care of things that require a lot of strain and when I fall ill, am scarcely in want of attention.

I look back and I discover that it has not been bad after all; it has not been rosy either but it is better than not living. You know with advancement in medical science you can actually determine the genotype of your baby while still in the womb-amniocentesis, At times I wonder, in this age of quick fix, what if my mother had aborted me on knowing I was going to have sickle cell disease. What would have happened? It meant I would not have existed and I would not have had a chance at living; painful though it might have been but it has been a good life. Life can be beautifull, yes, beautifull with double L even with sickle cell disease. CHOSE LIFE, IT’S WORTH LIVING.


Dr. Adaeze ikeakor

image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/ 

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.


  1. Wow!this is so touching and inspiring.Thank you Dr Kani for this post and to Dr Chidi,I thank God for your life.He will surely keep you and guide you all the days of your life.You are a blessed woman.

  2. @Dr. Chidi, met you once but interestingly i have never forgotten your face n smile... rest in peace