Today’s Warrior in the Spotlight is Tanjila Bolden, a beautiful and intelligent Warrior whose family has kept her centered and whose faith has kept her strong. Tanjila is the Sickle Cell Program Coordinator for the Youth and Family Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell?
18 months old. I understood that I was extraordinary by age five.
How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell?
I have an amazing mother! As an educator she made it her point to keep me up to date on the information I missed during my frequent absences. I worked extremely hard to catch up and keep up. My peers proved to be the most difficult situation to deal with. Parents were not educated on this disease, therefore their children responded with the same ignorance they heard at home. I learned early on that prayer WORKS! “Faith without works is dead”.
How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career?
I am the Sickle Cell Program Coordinator for The Youth and Family Center in St. Louis, Missouri. All of my experiences have shaped me into the woman that I am today. My tests and trials with sickle cell disease made me courageous, determined and success oriented. FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!
What do you do and what kind of experience and schooling does one need for your job?
I am a Sickle Cell Program Coordinator. I have a Masters in Social Work and 5 years experience
Describe a typical day on your job.
My typical day involves researching past, present and future sickle cell developments, providing outreach services, developing and implementing programs, facilitating workshops and support groups, engaging clients and their families, the medical community and those working toward a cure. My activities vary from day to day.
Your job sounds absolutely fascinating, and what so many other sickle cell warriors would like to do. How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career?
Stick to a strict routine which includes laughing, loving, learning, walking, drinking 8-10 glasses of water and getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. I avoid extended exposure to extreme temperatures and last, but most important, maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. God is my all and all! Without God I would not be! I give Him praise!
Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD?
In past positions, YES, and I despised the way they looked at me after I was out sick. The worst comment was and still is “I’m sorry”. It makes me want to ask “What do you have to be sorry for?” I have never wanted to be coddled. This has made me work hard to prove others wrong and prove myself right…”I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH”!!! Philippians 4:13
What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your profession that has sickle cell?
[stextbox id=”custom”]Fight and don’t give up, even when you are afraid of your own potential keep pushing. Nothing feels better than hard earned success. Be sure to journal along the way and KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS, this way you can avoid them.[/stextbox]
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life?
NO. I limited my life by believing I couldn’t live a life just as fulfilling as those without SCD because man (doctors) said so.
When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it?
Thinking about how far I have come by Faith, His Grace and Mercy!
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)?
What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain?
Folic Acid, Exjade, low dose Aspirin; Have not had pain crisis in two years. I have been off narcotic pain medication for two years. When I am achy it is due to my body being worn out so I just rest.
Wow, that’s pretty amazing that you haven’t been in a pain crisis in such a long time. Kudos! Moving on to a different tangent, how has sickle cell affected your personal life?
In the past I allowed SCD to shelter me as I was afraid of others thoughts and comments about me. Once I realized that I have SCD it does not have me, I let go of that life. I am learning to be more outgoing and focus on living and making the most out of every day I am blessed to wake up in my right mind and free of pain. I have 1 child that I birthed naturally and three that God brought into my life. I am engaged to be married in 2013.
Please tell us about your significant other. How have they helped you with sickle cell?
My fiancé has been a huge support over the years. He is my soul mate and gives me so much strength. I love that he does not allow me to stay down or settle in defeated emotions. I admire him for being strong enough to love me and not give up on me; for loving himself enough to take a chance and really get to know me. He is one of my biggest supporters. He stood by me during my most difficult times and for that I will be forever grateful. I thank God for blessing me with such an amazing man. He has reinforced the belief that as we think so shall we be; and that whatsoever I ask in Jesus Name and in faith, that shall I have…Healing, peace, joy, deliverance, favor, love…
How did your relationship evolve taking into account the sickle cell?
We have both grown tremendously in our faith. God has taken us to a new level with Him. I am confident that I can speak for my fiancé when I say we are blessed to have one another. The scriptures that come to mind are: Genesis 2:21-25 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
When did you tell him that you had sickle cell disease?
I told him during our first phone conversation after meeting, two days after we met. I had my first crisis one week after we met and he was on his way to Chicago(a 7-hour drive). He turned around and came back to be with me at the hospital. He worked at the hospital and would come daily to give my mother a break; he sat with me until his shift started, ate lunch with me and would come for a few hours after his shift ended.
If you do have kids, please describe in as much detail as possible, how your pregnancy, labor and delivery was.
I have given birth to one son. The pregnancy was difficult. I was placed on bed rest for the entire pregnancy and was told that I was a high risk pregnancy. I had several crises during that time, which was terrifying. I had to take morphine, hydrocodone, and other narcotics to relieve the pain. My doctors were concerned about the risk for spontaneous abortion or pre-term labor due to stress caused by the crises and crises caused by stress from the baby. I was due Jan. 22, 1999 and I had my son on Dec. 31, 1998. He was a healthy 6lbs, 1oz. I received an epidural during my 7th hour of labor. I was eventually induced and labored for a total of 17 hours. My son was stubborn, but after about an hour of pushing he arrived. All things considered, the labor was not bad. After having crises I could have done it without the epidural.
Wow…you are such a strong lady. Does your son have sickle cell disease?
No. He does have sickle cell trait, however. Thank God for that.
Looking at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could?
Be courageous! Go for the gold! Live your life in the Sunshine! Nothing is impossible with God on your team! You will be great beyond measure! Pray without ceasing and meditate daily on this jewel: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors?
[stextbox id=”custom”]Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV[/stextbox]
When the Spirit of God led me to this scripture, it changed my entire outlook on life. It was so clear. Q: Where is the Spirit of the Lord? A: EVERYWHERE
This means that we are free from any and all bondage warriors! No pain, sickness or disease!
Thank you Tanjila for your inspiring testimony! Blessings in all your future endeavors