Our warrior for this week is a dynamic and energetic woman. La’Veda Wallace-Page is a mom, actress, musician, minister and of course a sickle cell warrior! She is very candid and open, and goes in depth on every facet of her life. Her interview will be split into 2 parts, so be sure to read Part 2 as well. In part 1, La Veda goes in depth about the turning point in her life, how her brother’s passing (he had sickle cell) changed her sickle cell perspective.
Let us start at the very beginning. How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell? I was 3 weeks old when I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell, my brother Derrick was 11 months and my sister Lithia was four. She was diagnosed with the trait. Derrick passed away when he was 28.
I’m so sorry to hear about Derrick’s passing. How did your brother die? Derrick died at home in his bed early one night while his wife and two daughters were watching TV. He had told his oldest to listen to her mom and be good. Later that night my sister in law called and said he was struggling to breathe and we told her to call an ambulance. When my momma got there the EMT’s had him on his bedroom floor but weren’t doing anything. My mom asked why and they said that he didn’t have a shockable rhythm. She layed her hand on his heart and felt it beating wildly and then it stopped. At the ER we stood outside the room praying until they told us that they couldn’t get him back. My mom was in there rubbing his head and she said “Hold on to Jesus Derrick” and we let him go which was what he had expressed to us times before that he wanted. We believe it was a clot in his heart but no autopsy was done by his wife’s request.
Oh my gosh…so sad. How were you able to emotionally survive his death? Did you have survivor’s guilt?
When Derrick passed I was lost, numb. I couldn’t really grieve as though it was unexpected because even as his little 5 year old sister I saw the torment and the tearing that his little body endured. I don’t know if I had seen or simply imagined his funeral but I had been there years before it happened and knew it was coming. I was both fearful and guilty. Fearful because I felt his death was a threat to my life. The night before he went home to be with the Lord I was in the ER and they didn’t have any reason to keep me. I was terribly flushed and weak but it was idiopathic so they sent me home. By this time I had been experiencing 7 years worth of SC symptoms and didn’t feel immune anymore. I had been diagnosed with a 9 cm tumor on my liver and had liver surgery. The doctors saw another on my lung and were planning a second surgery. I had experienced my first of two blood clots in the lungs, chronic transfusions, multiple hospitalizations outside of transfusions and sickle cell crisis in the plural. I was so tired of lying face up looking at cold white institutional walls, fluorescent lights, desensitized staff, breathing deep and holding for machines and waiting for, praying against the next blow. I was tired and thought I was dying too. [stextbox id=”alert”]I felt guilty because he suffered for 28 years I for 7 and he died and I lived. I wondered was my purpose greater than his? Was I more important to the earth than my brother? [/stextbox]I rejected it but didn’t know what to hold onto. I was guilty for not understanding why he was mean to us during visits, he didn’t want the shades up, we couldn’t turn the TV, he wouldn’t speak sometimes and I would tell him that I wasn’t coming up to the hospital for him to be acting crazy. I stopped visiting as much. I understood everything so much better now but he was gone and I couldn’t tell him I was sorry. He came to me though in a dream about our elementary school days. I was crying telling him that the class was mean to me and like a big brother he laid my head on him. I wept and talked about a particular teacher and a certain student and before I knew it I was saying, ” I’m sorry I didn’t understand Derrick. I’m sorry I was so impatient and so mean“. And my brother said “‘Veda, its okay“. When I woke up the guilt was gone and I felt I could fight further.
That is so touching. To me, it sounds like Derrick was the one that helped you through that difficult time in your life. Sickle cell is such a challenge for everyone. I was mostly asymptomatic growing up. My struggle was more mental than physical because I saw my brother suffer horribly all of his life with crisis pain and restrictions. I honestly felt like a Judas because I appeared to have “gotten away” from it.
That must have been so hard for you. It’s often said that the emotional turmoil can be more difficult than the physical one. You are right Tosin. The shame of being sickly from any disease can paralyze people and we fall into the doldrums, we stop fighting for the more that we deserve. The truth is often times the mental and emotional pain is far worse than the physical because at some point there is relief for the body, but what about the mind and spirit of the man?
Let us talk now about your work. How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career? Oh well, my family is super musical and we were always surrounded by that type of artistic expression. My uncle is one of the original Mighty Clouds of Joy and my dad wrote for them and many other gospel quartet groups as I was growing up. We had a church and as pastor’s kids’ we had to sing and play music as well as be out front. We had evangelical tv shows in which we did the same. So for me acting and singing was always there I just didn’t get paid for it back then. Lol
How coincidental…I’m a PK too! So how did you evolve from singing at church to what you do now? I am a singer/recording artist and actress, a minister, writer, wife and mom.
You stay busy La’Veda! What kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job? It depends really as an actress singer, there are varying levels of proficiency and different avenues of expression ie film, stage, etc. I do stage mostly so I had vocal training and acting classes. I also attended seminary but was ministering the gospel before I entered the institute. As a writer you need school period. I mean you can write small time for family, friends and community but you still need to know how to write a grammatically correct and inspiring piece of literature. No manuals for wife and mother, that ‘s a God thing. He teaches me daily how to do it and I am not shy about asking.
Describe a typical day on your job. Wow. After the auditions and initial meetings come the rehearsals. I am very keen on being one of the first off book. It shows a dedication to the project to come without your script knowing your lines and the leads at least of all others on stage. Rehearsals are fun and energetic. Then there’s the wardrobe/costuming and finally the show. There is no scarier time than when the curtains first open and the lights come up and you have to give it! And there is no bigger rush than giving your final line and greeting the audience. Gotta love it!
As a minister I am a teacher, I save the drama for the stage and make certain that I have spent time hearing from the Lord as to what to say to His people. It is a great responsibility and I don’t consider it fun per say but it is an honor. Wife omg, cooking, cleaning, loving, helping, understanding. Mom, just decide that your life does not belong to you. I literally give myself away to my son everyday all day. But I love it.
Don’t go anywhere…we are just getting started with La’Veda. In the second part of this interview, we are going to get to know more about her family life: boisterous son, handsome husband and how she manages her busy life with sickle cell. Click HERE to read part 2 of her interview.