Today, we are interviewing Paula Kent, a warrior with a passion to dream, and to follow her talents! Despite her dealings with sickle cell, Paula was among the top 5 in her classes while she was in school, and today, Paula is a successful Administrative Assistant, as well as a Freelance Writer and an upcoming Gospel DJ.
Can you introduce yourself to us, Paula?
Hi, my name is Paula Kent and I am from Kenya.
How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell?
Two of my older sisters had sickle cell and so we used to be sick almost all the time. I want to believe that probably my parents didn’t know what the three of us where suffering from. It’s when I was 13 years old, at school when the teacher was talking about blood diseases, he mentioned SCD. At that point, I connected the symptoms he had mentioned to what I would feel when unwell. Sounds strange, but that’s how I knew I had SCD.
How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell?
Like I mentioned, my sisters and I used to be sick regularly. That meant I had to miss classes regularly but upon recovery, I’d catch up. And do you know what else? I would always be among the top 5 students during my entire schooling years. I bless the Lord for this.
How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career?
Well, when I was growing up, my dad always wanted me to be a nurse. I guess he had seen my compassion towards the sick at a tender age. However, when I was all grown, I opted to pursue HR.
What do you do? What kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job?
I work as an Admin Assistant; I think Business Administration courses would be essential for this job. Conversely, this is not my ultimate dream. I am a freelance writer and an upcoming gospel deejay. I’m working on these talents, practicing and practicing some more. My fulfillment is in doing these two things!
Describe a typical day on your job.
I work for a Financial Consultancy Firm where I report at 6:30am. I begin by reading and responding to clients’ mails, and then whenever a telephone query is forwarded to me, I give feedback as needed. As it is, I double up as a Customer-Care Rep. During the day, I sit in meetings with my Directors or conduct scheduled financial trainings outside the office. That’s pretty much what I do.
How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career?
I’d say, SCD has its setbacks but all in all, I listen to my body. When I am not feeling well, hey…everything else must stop. It’s all about striking a balance. Surprisingly, only two of my colleagues know that I have SCD; my boss and a friend.
Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD?
I haven’t noted the difference at all. First of all, no one can believe that I have SCD. I am strong and perform my duties just like anyone else.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your profession that has sickle cell?
Really, that you can be all you want to be whether you have SCD or not. As you know by now, my job isn’t strenuous, so anyone can do it.
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life?
Yes. I have leg ulcers that have kept recurring for the past 14 years. In essence, SCD has, to some extent, limited how I dress…I can’t go all girly, you know! Then, since these painful ulcers take forever to heal, sometimes I feel like my life goes in slow motion.
When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it?
What get’s me going through my valleys, is the hope I have in my God. Only He alone knows why He created me with SCD and I can’t start complaining since there are others in a much worse hurdle that ME!
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working?
No. Thank God my pains are not as frequent.
What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain?
I take folic acid. When in pain, I manage it with paracetamol, fluids and the much needed rest. On admission, I am at the doctors’ mercy.
How has sickle cell affected your personal life? For example, are you in a relationship, do you have kids, etc.
I am single and anticipating to get married to one who will love me for me and support me. SCD hasn’t affected my relations whatsoever.
Looking at the 14-year-old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could…?
Dream big Paula…no, dream bigger!!
Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors?
To my fellow warriors out there, be strong…know that your Creator loves you the way you are. Take care of your body to the best of your ability; you owe this to God, to yourself and others who care about you! Also, don’t be overly serious, enjoy your life…it’s ALL you’ve got!!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!