The Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee supports patients of the disease financially, emotionally and physically, alongside its constant push for greater education. The organization’s annual 5-K is planned for next weekend, honoring our late chief meteorologist Mark Walden, with a hope to shed light on the struggles of patients, while raising money to treat the disease.
“When you talk to people with Sickle Cell Disease for them death, they feel, is inevitable. They talk about it as if, who knows when that day will be,” explains Cherry Whitehead-Thompson, co-founder of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee. She lost her husband, Dr. Trevor Thompson, nearly a year ago due to complications with the disease, and says for loved ones, it can be a feeling of hopelessness. “The levels of pain that they experience and there’s nothing that you can do, besides just trying to be there to support them, maybe some massages here or there and definitely prayer.”
Director of finance for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tennessee, Joseph Lee III explains, “Sickle Cell primarily affects African Americans, but it does affect individuals from the Mediterranean as well as the Caribbean areas.”
The inherited disease affects its patients at the cellular level, just as its name suggests. “They are sickled and they’re sticky, they’re rigid, they stick together,” says Whitehead-Thompson. The shape affects the flow of blood and oxygen through a patient’s body. Many patients rely on medications for treatment, but there is no cure. “Many a times we feel that people living with this disease suffer in silence,” explains Whitehead-Thompson.
This Saturday, September 30th, you can join the fight by registering for the Mark Walden Memorial Sickle Cell 5K Run/Walk at Autozone Park. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.