Meet Daniella: Young, Successful, Chef, Entrepreneur, Warrior!

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Hey everyone, I am happy to introduce this week’s warrior  Daniella! She is a very driven, determined, and charismatic young lady. As a successful chef and entrepreneur with a passion for cooking she has found her calling  and will not let sickle cell stop her from following her dreams!

Daniella

How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell? Birth

How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell? It was difficult but I never had any issues with school work or teachers. I graduated with honors from high school and went on to study psychology at SUNY Stony Brook. I was very open with my illness.

How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career? Well I am the exec. Chef and CEO of my own catering company and I got my start in cooking doing home videos cooking with my father.

What do you do? What kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job? I am a chef so some can choose to attend culinary school or work their way through the ranks of a restaurant to establish their name in the field.

Describe a typical day on your job. I’m a private chef so I wake up around 6 to prep for a brunch party, then once it’s finished I clean up and go over any menus or recipes I have to write for any upcoming events.

How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career? I don’t over exert myself and I pick and choose the events I do wisely. I drink a lot of water and stay on top of taking multi vitamins and folio acid. When time calls when I’m sick, I’m fortunate enough to be able to have the time needed to recover.

Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD? Not at all, all my friends, family and associates are super supportive. I’m very open with my illness because it is a huge part of my life.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your profession that has sickle cell? Restaurant life was hard and one of the reasons I left to do my own thing. It’s fast paced, long hours and very tiring. I suggest you have a real passion for it and learn as much as you can. Be creative and take chances. It is an art and requires a lot of practice.

Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life? No, I don’t let it interfere with anything. I know limits very well and I try hard to adhere to the things I know I can do and try not to do anything extra.

When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it? My lord and savior, I pray and think daily. I have a group of friends I can always talk too.

Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working? No, fortunately I don’t. My crisis occur maybe 4-5x a year mostly manageable at home and I’m hospitalized maybe 2-3x a year.

What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain? Dilaudid is my medicine of choice for pain. I take folic acid regularly.

Please tell us about your significant other. How have they helped you with sickle cell?
I am currently seeing someone and she is very supportive and caring. She brings me flowers and knows my routine. She is also there to rub my stomach and give me the proper care when needed.

Looking at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could…? I’d tell the 14 year old me, stay focused and listen to your parents. Follow your dreams and follow your heart but take your brain with you. Cooking is your calling so practice that.

Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors? Stay strong and love yourself. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional

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