My name Sefakor means “God comforts” my other name Enam means “God has given”. My life has been a series of testimonies and I have found the comfort of God in times I needed it.
I’ve had it good compared to others; being born with Sickle Cell Disease brings many odds that stack against a person, but I have had the love and support of family, friends and an amazing church family which have carried me through even the toughest times.
I spent a considerable amount of my earlier years in hospital. I remember being rushed there many times while in basic school. I was prevented from partaking in sporting activities and anything that involved excessive physical activity. In addition, my mom was fussy, which meant being under constant scrutiny and doing a lot to prevent crises.
Thankfully, I wrote my BECE without incident. However, a decision was made to keep me in Accra at all cost, close to home or rather, close to hospital. I was furious. My grades were great. My friends were going to amazing schools they had chosen and here I was, stuck in Accra, and without the full range of options I desired. I felt Sickle Cell Disease was going to ruin – or run – my life.
As it turns out my mom’s decision to keep me in Accra was brilliant! I started senior high school and stayed in the boarding house but nothing prepared me for the experience. I was faced with a very hostile environment and school authorities who did not make the journey easier. But I thank God for Miss Margaret Nyame who provided me hot water to bathe, warm water at 4:30am for a person living with Sickle Cell Disease is a lifesaver.
My time in senior high school was the most unpleasant period in my life.
It was a continuous cycle of ill health. I was admitted, discharged, readmitted after a few days only for the cycle to repeat itself. My grades plummeted, I was frustrated, that was the end of boarding school for me. Yet, God came through in grand style.
While writing WASSCE I was in such excruciating pain during my core maths paper it is a miracle I passed. I was driven straight from the exam room to the ER where I stayed for three days.
I was discharged on the morning of my next paper. I really could not afford to miss any papers. I was trying to get into medical school. By God’s grace I passed and got admission into medical school.
Everything that could go wrong did in medical school. Too many times!Medical school was a repeat of the terrible health cycle from senior high school but this time with new sickle cell disease related complications. I fell ill again when writing my final exams. I resisted getting admitted so hard because I wanted a different testimony. I wanted to be able to say I wrote a major exam without breaking down completely, but God had other plans.
My friends had to persuade me to go to the ER on the night before my surgery finals. I was so distraught, but God spoke to me through my doctor. It was simple. Had He not done it for me before? Had I not been admitted during major exams in the past and still passed? Had he not brought me to medical school? All I had to do was believe and have faith. No doubt. This was not beyond Him, nothing is.
Based on my experience, I am inspired to encourage people like myself to aim for more and not allow themselves to be limited by this disease. I am passionate about preventing Sickle Cell Disease. I am passionate about sharing the experiences of persons like myself with others to give the public a glimpse of the reality of living with Sickle Cell Disease. I believe I have found my calling. It is Sickle Life.
Through Sickle Life I empower people to make informed choices regarding Sickle Cell Disease. The Sickle Life Team achieves its aim through publications on our website, social media interactions, health talks, health screening, and by providing Sickle Cell Testing and counselling.
I am challenged to be the change I want to see in the World. I want more attention paid to Sickle Cell Disease on a national and global level. I want more people educated and empowered to make informed choices about Sickle Cell Disease. I want you to opt not to pass Sickle Cell Disease to your child. I want access to comprehensive Sickle Cell Care so I won’t be driven out of the ER when in pain. I want you to care enough about Sickle Cell Disease to talk about it. I want World Sickle Cell Day commemorated in my country.
And while I wait to see the change, I work to be that change.
I am Sefakor Enam Bankas. I support Sickle Cell Awareness.
Join Sickle Life for our World Sickle Cell Day 2016 Commemoration.
Support persons living with Sickle Cell Disease by donating blood and get tested for Sickle Cell Disease FOR FREE. (sickling test+hb electrophoresis).
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Written by: Dr. Sefakor Enam Bankas.
(The writer is a person living with Sickle Cell Disease and a Sickle Cell Disease advocate. She is the founder of Sickle Life. All views expressed are personal, please contact your doctor, counsellor for further information.)