Dasha is a determined, hardworking young lady. She has sickle cell, but isn’t letting the condition slow her down or stop her from her dreams, aspirations, and full potential. Read her inspiring journey below.
How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell?
My mother found out that I had sickle cell disease when I was two years old in 1994, 18 years ago.
How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell?
Dealing with sickle cell and school has been one of the hardest challenges. I miss a lot of days and sometimes a professor does not know what I deal with and some fail to care. It’s difficult, but somehow I make it work among other things.
How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career?
My childhood was very lonely although I have brothers and sisters that I love dearly I spent a lot of time in and out the hospital and that influenced me a lot to make the choice to choose my study to be nursing. My mother is a nurse and a strong black woman who never left my side. I want any child with sickle cell disease to be able to enjoy their childhood and stay away from the hospital as much as possible. Anyway I can help, I am willing.
What do you do?
Currently I am a student studying Nursing at South University and I work as a customer service representative at Dish Network. Mostly I just talk with the customers and help them with their questions and concerns.
Describe a typical day on your job.
“Thank you for calling Dish, this is Dasha, how may I help you” is my opening line and I repeat that all day. I have a break and go outside to get heat because it’s so cold in the building which is difficult to deal with. At the end of the day I am driving home to meds and a warm bed.
Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD?
When my coworkers found out about the SCD they wanted to have pity on me and I didn’t like it, I just told them to treat me like before because I am “regular” I just have some special needs and they respected that.
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life?
Sickle cell disease has put limits on some areas of my life. I can’t tolerate some of the activities others can but I tried. One thing it never held me back from was dance. I have been dancing since I was a young girl and yes it has gotten hard as I aged, but I never gave it up.
Dance the night away beautiful! When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it?
Obstacles have come and gone and I looked up to the man up above and prayed that he healed my body and give my mother the strength to make it all okay. I have to get in the mindset that I am bigger then a disease and if I think I can make it I know I can, just ASK, BELIEVE, and RECEIVE.
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)?
I have pain every single day and the best way I deal with it is by staying hydrated, drinking plenty fluids, taking my meds and staying rested. I take Hydroxyurea, Folic acid, and vitamin D3 daily along with pain medication as needed. There is not much to do while I am at work but deal with it and it can become overwhelming, but I make sure I take care of myself first.
That is such an integral point. Self care is an important precept to managing sickle cell. How has sickle cell affected your personal life?
Sickle cell has little to no affect on my personal life. I have no children, but wish to some day and I have wonderful family and friends who understand every aspect of life and how much I appreciate it. I also have a beautiful boyfriend who loves me and supports me 1000% and understands sometimes I may go through things and he’s there through it all by my side.
Please tell us about your significant other. How have they helped you with sickle cell?
My Boyfriend is a true gift. He is a 24 year old SGT in the U.S Army serving our country. He is so sweet to me and I appreciate him. He has been there from the day he found out about my sickle cell. He keeps me on top of my meds and doctor appointments. Sometimes he can be a pain when he’s getting on me about taking care of myself, but I know he is looking out for me. It has made us better as a couple. He first found out about my sickle cell disease when he had to take me to the hospital. I hadn’t told him before that and at first he was angry, but he didn’t hold that against me and has been there ever since. He’s my Best Friend.
He sounds like a keeper. A good man that can cope with sickle cell is hard to find. Hang on to him:) Looking at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could?
Looking at the 14 year old version of me now I would tell her to put her and her needs first, take care of herself and never take anything that someone tells her to help her for granted because they are only looking out for her. I would let her know to never give up on anything she loves doing and never ever get discouraged because anything is possible.
Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors?
I would just tell them to appreciate life and all it has to offer because once time passes it’s not coming back, love you for who you are and do what’s best for you and know that you are not in this battle by yourself. To just take care of yourself, do what you need to do to stay healthy. Be patient with people because it goes a long way and believe in everything you do.
Thank you Dasha, for sharing your life with us. And congratulations future nurse!