It’s February, and we are Feeling the Love at Sick Cells. For us, “Feeling the Love” goes beyond celebrating Valentine’s day. It is also a time to reflect on the love we share with one another. The love we receive from our family, friends, romantic partners, etc., brings comfort and emotional and physical safety; for SCD Warriors, that feeling is unmatched. This month we celebrate the people who continue to pour love into us every chance they get. This blog post highlights several voices from our Faces of SCD Storytelling series that have captured the power of love across the SCD community.
Platonic and support systems
As people, we look for connections that bring us joy and companionship. We look for people with whom to build community. These people become our best friends, mentors, and support systems. For SCD warriors, the support of a friend means one less person to judge or stigmatize them. Hear from warriors about the love and support they have received from their close friends:
Kadeem, SCD Warrior, received support while in college from a caring individual that bloomed into a friendship.
“In my most painful crises, I’ve learned who my real friends are… I am grateful for the friends I have. When I was a freshman in college, another student saw me limping and asked what had happened. I told her I had sickle cell and was in pain. She immediately became concerned, wanted to know more, and took me to the hospital […] we became friends, and I started to rely on her to take me to the hospital, and she always came through, even if she had to borrow a friend’s car. She would even stay with me in the hospital until I was all set, and if they treated me wrong, she would argue […] I was grateful to have met her; she advocated for me in my time of need from the love of her heart.”
Lena, SCD Warrior, found the most support in her close friends.
“My core group of friends knew [about my sickle cell], and they were very helpful and loving.”
Love of Caregivers and Family
Caregivers show unconditional love that seeks nothing in return. The love of a caregiver goes beyond assisting with medications and navigating a complex medical system. Caregivers provide companionship, build memories and honor their loved ones. This love can come from a mother, brother, or immediate family. Hear from warriors about how they are loved by their caregivers and from caregivers about how they honor and support their loved ones:
Whitney, SCD Warrior – “My life is filled with moments of joy and love. As a daughter, mother, wife and sickle cell warrior, I can’t express the way I am shown daily. The support is unreal.”
Brenda, Mother of SCD Warrior – “We founded our nonprofit, The B Strong Group, in honor of our son, Braden, who has sickle cell disease. We founded this organization because of our love and devotion for our son but continue to sustain it due to our love and admiration of our sickle cell warriors and those who care for them. We love to serve by spreading awareness of sickle cell disease through education, advocacy, and empowerment. We have been so blessed through our family’s journey to discover our purpose, which includes our amazingly resilient sickle cell warriors.”
Shakara, Mother of SCD Warrior – “I know his triggers, like cold weather… or anything cold. Like swimming in a cold pool is a definite no-no.”
Romantic love – finding love and dating
It is no secret that living with SCD makes it challenging to find a romantic partner. Although challenging, warriors across the nation are also thriving and exploring the dating scene that works for them. Hear from warriors about their experiences with dating and relationships:
Genesis – I think it’s hard for me because sickle cell has never given me the space to find a partner. It’s hard when you are always in the hospital – there’s nothing romantic about how you are feeling and it’s hard to want to do anything other than rest. Plus, it’s always a conversation I have to have with the person I am interested in […] I do have faith that with time and strength that God will provide my partner and they will put in the time and effort to truly learn about the sickle cell pain and things that I have been through.
Cory – When dating, I want to make sure that I am strong and confident so I can give my partner what they need so it’s not one-sided. I don’t want my other half to feel like they have to take care of me. I don’t want them to say ‘I have to do this for Cory.’
Elodie – As a woman living with SCD I never really believed that I would find a partner who would be able to understand the difficulties of SCD and be willing to walk this challenging path with me. But then I met Evan… For him there was never a question about IF he wanted to care for me, rather, what could he do to always make me feel better, make sure I was safe, and had what I needed to be comfortable. He has become my biggest advocate. I love my husband”
There is no doubt that love is a massive part of an SCD warrior’s life. It helps remind us about the simple things in life and the ones who matter most. Of course, there will be times when love seems complicated, but that is what makes the bond powerful. We hope these stories help our community reflect on the love that surrounds us in all its forms and allows you to celebrate those special loves in your life. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Want to share your story with Sick Cells? Feel free to fill out our Faces of SCD form to be featured in upcoming blog and campaigns. Also check out our socials @Sickcells with our ongoing Black History Month campaign showcasing change makers.