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
Lung tissue damage
Swelling in extremities
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: https://www.sicklecelldisease.org/