Conquering Sickle Cell
When I was 15 years old, my dad purchased a photography studio in the heart of downtown, Kingston. Well that business became mine and from age 17 on, I enrolled in Art college to learn about photography. I also took professional make up classes so I could provide a wonderful portrait experience for my clients. My sister, Rhonda, 4 years younger than I, was my little guinea pig. I would dress her up in feathers and glitter and hats so big, 90’s style, they swallowed her little head. But she enjoyed every moment of it and so did I!
Rhonda passed away on July 10th, 2008 as she finally lost her battle against sickle cell disease; a common inherited blood disorder . I am a mother of two now, currently living in Greenville SC and it weighs heavy on my heart that my sister cannot share in my joys but I will always remember fondly the times we laughed together taking pictures!!
I have been thinking for years about a way I can contribute in memory of my sister, but have just not been able to face it until recently.
In 2018, I read an article in the Greenville News about a new Greenville Sickle Cell advisory board, consisting of volunteers, and community leaders such as Councilwoman Lillian Brock Fleming , and Dr. Alan Anderson, Pediatric Hemotology-Oncologist, working together as a team to increase awareness about the disease and to increase the lifespan of sickle cell disease patients.
According to a 2013 Study conducted by the John Hopkins School of Medicine, the life expectancy of adults with SCD has dramatically decreased. ( from 42 for men and 48 for women in 1994, to 38 and 42 respectively by 2005.)
They postulate that this dramatic decrease may reflect a lack of access to high quality care for adults with SCD.
My sister was 20 years old at the time of her death. It is my love and memory of her that has motivated me to create this project. Through photography and short video clips, I wish to increase awareness of the challenges and needs of people like my sister. I also want to highlight their beautiful qualities and encouraging stories.