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Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Did you know that not only is September Childhood Cancer Awareness month but is also Sickle Cell Awareness Month? Sickle cell disease is a genetic condition that affects the body’s red blood cells. It occurs when a child receives two sickle cell genes—one from each parent. In someone living with this disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” Sickle Cell Disease is not contagious and there is no known universal cure.

The blockage of blood flow caused by sickled blood cells leads to complications including:

  • Chronic severe and unpredictable pain

  • Anemia

  • Vision problems/blindness

  • Lung tissue damage

  • Kidney disease

  • Swelling in extremities

  • Fatigue

  • Delayed growth

  • Stroke

  • Shortened life expectancy

How a Child Life Specialist can help children with Sickle Cell Disease:

  • Help children living with SCD understand their diagnosis through developmentally appropriate diagnosis education.

  • Assist in aiding to ease the amount of pain experienced during a pain crisis by equipping patients with non-pharmacological pain management techniques such as deep breathing, guided imagery, distraction, etc.

  • Reduce anxiety and fears associated with frequent hospitalizations and treatments using therapeutic interventions.

Here is a list of things you can do to help raise awareness and support those living with Sickle Cell Disease:

  • Donate blood to support transfusions.

  • Advocate for better treatment, education, and research.

  • Take the time to research about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait to educate yourself and others.

  • Get tested for sickle cell trait if you are of African descent and do not know your status.

  • Support organizations such as Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

More information can be found from the following source: