As a parent with a child that has sickle cell, how far would you go to cure your child? Read about one mother’s journey, her struggle, and sacrifices–all to protect and support her beloved son.
When I was first given this assignments I was very excited! I thought, great I could learn more information about Bone Marrow Transplant. I had heard so much about the option and I was hopeful! I interviewed G. Dansby one afternoon via Skype. She is a mother of 2 boys with her youngest son having Sickle Cell SS Disease!
After introductions, we got right down to business. Within the first few minutes of the interview, it was apparent that there was a major discrepancy concerning the difference between Bone Marrow Transplant and Stem Cell Transplant! Up until this moment I did not understand the difference, so I asked for clarification! G. Dansby explained similarities and differences of Stem Cell and Bone Marrow transplant. They are very similar because the process of finding a donor match, chemotherapy and recovery are the same. However, the difference is where the sample is taken from. With a Bone Marrow Transplant, the sample comes from the bone marrow whereas the sample comes from the blood stream for the stem cell transplant. She also explained that her son was a part of a special study that removed the T cells from her son as well. The Doctor decided to do this because when you remove the T cells (T cells help fight infections), there is a greater chance for the transplant to take and lessened the chances to get graft versus host disease. Although, removing the T cells lessens the chances of graft versus host disease, her son did not get graft versus host disease. The transplant failed and the Doctors did not know why. He endured many more transplants until his body began to reproduce its own platelets, red cells and white cells! He didn’t start producing T-cells until months after the last transplant.
As the conversation progressed, there were many more questions I had to ask her. The main question that emerged after she spoke about the T Cells, the failed and repeat transplants and many other challenges she faced during this journey was “Why.” Simply, Why! Why go through all of this in order to be Sickle Cell free? She then began explaining the many types of challenges her son faced before they decided to do the Stem Cell transplant! Those challenges included but are not limited to the looming dual hip replacements, problems in schools, numerous hospital stays and one event that brought tears to my eyes! When her son was 2, his body stopped producing blood! He almost died! She states that she was very scared for her son’s life before the transplant and during! However, G. Dansby said it was all worth it! Even though, her son’s journey during this process has included several infections, partial blindness and a very long stay in the hospital post-transplant, she would still do it! Her son has not been hospitalized because of a Sickle Cell crisis because he is Sickle Cell free. He has a greater chance of living a normal life, life without Sickle Cell.
Now, before you say anything about this mom, please keep in mind she is a single mother. She has moved from Arizona to North Carolina to help her son have better treatment once she found that treatment for her son would be difficult as he got older in Arizona! Before moving, she researched the best possible areas for her son to live in to give him the best chance, she was unselfish! She put the needs of her son before her own needs! When she was approached by her sons Doctor about a new study using Stem Cell transplant and removing the T cells, she RESEARCHED! She did her homework! This was a well-informed mom! It is important to point out that she did not just jump at this chance for her son to be Sickle Cell free! Also, she included her son in the decision making process. After all, this is his life!
After interviewing G. Dansby, I have gained another perspective of Sickle Cell and how it affects the lives of everyone! There were several times that I was close to tears as I interviewed her! As soon as everything was over, I cried because she and her sons have gone through so much as Warriors and without much support. This mother and her sons have endured a lot and the journey is not over but the outcome far outweighed the consequences for her and her son. She told me that she could not talk to many people because despite their lack of understanding of Sickle Cell, their advice was plentiful! However, G. Dansby is strong! She is no punk! From the time her son was diagnosed until now, she has been by his side. She has stood in the face of adversity and lack of assistance and understanding. She researched, advocated and did not give up until she found the best solution for her son. She is a true Caregiver Warrior!
By Mrs. Tamara Adams
-A Warrior’s Caregiver