September is National Sickle Cell Awareness month but what do you know about sickle cell and how moms are dealing with it?
Sickle Cell Speaks defines sickle cell disease as a blood disorder: where red blood cells can change shape and form a sickle, or crescent. The cells become stiff and sticky, causing them to block blood flow and break down inside the blood vessels. This can cause pain in "sicklers" and give them what's called a sickle cell crisis.
I got to ask a dear friend of mine, Zoe Chin loy, a mom, wife, entrepreneur and blogger, her thoughts on raising a child with sickle cell. If you know Zoe or have followed her or her businesses, you know that Zoe is an open book on a mission to help people, especially women, feel better about themselves. Whether it be through eyebrow transformation or her transparency around weight-loss, marriage, parenting and self-love, Zoe has been an inspiration to so many. She continues to breakdown barriers, kick down doors, and show people the beauty of normalizing "mom bods." She has turned what people feel shameful about and made it sexy and beautiful.
Yes, as a mom, you can be sexy and beautiful!
At the tender age of 18, Zoe gave birth to her beautiful first born Aliyah. Three days later, Zoe received a call from the doctors letting this new mom know that her daughter may have sickle cell disease. As a middle school student, Zoe had experiences with a friend who also suffered from sickle cell disease so her first thought was, "my poor child!"
Fresh out of school and young, any mother could worry or be anxious about how their life will change after a call like this. You may wonder, how am I going to do this? Is this really how we'll spend the rest of our lives? How can I take this pain away from my child?
Zoe has experienced some challenges raising a child with sickle cell but she continues to push through and her daughter is flourishing because of it.
This mom knows that her child may not have a normal active life, therefore, she has to be aware of the activities her daughter participates in and proactive in ensuring Aliyah drinks enough water, takes rests when she needs to, and is excused from certain activities at school. The more physical a child with sickle cell is, the less oxygen they are able to get in their bloodstream, which results in a sickle cell crisis and an endurance of pain.
Another challenge Zoe has faced is deciphering between a sickle cell crisis versus growing pains and most importantly how to help her daughter know the difference. Whenever Aliyah experiences any kind of pain, Zoe must always consider that this can be a sickle cell crisis. The challenge is that Aliyah is a beautiful healthy growing girl and as she begins to become more familiar with her body she will now need to be able to decipher between the experiences she is feeling in order to best treat her symptoms.
"God didn't give my child this because he knew she couldn't handle it," Zoe says.
So her advice for moms is this:
- Don't Panic!
- Find a good support circle
- Find things that help get your child's mind off the pain
- Encourage and affirm your kids
- Do your research
- Be kind to everyone
Zoe pointed out that you never know what people are going through and sickle cell is not a disease that you can just see. For that reason alone, it's important that you treat everyone with care and love because you never know what they are going through inside. In addition, having sickle disease doesn't define who your child is, it just happens to be something that your child has, so "You can't just let challenges bring you down or slow your progress in life," Zoe says.
This mom, of 3, continues to empower her daughter and help her embrace her sickle cell disease. She even recalls telling her daughter that "God thought that you were strong enough to deal with this and maybe one day you'll be able to inspire others." Ironically, Zoe does just that. Zoe has been taking the internet by storm through her transparency on marriage, motherhood, and weight loss.. She is also teaching people what it means to truly love yourself.
Speaking of teaching, Zoe offers Microblading Classes at the number one microblading spot in Miami, her company, Mint Brows. In addition to owning Mint Brwos, Zoe also used her gift to start the Mint Vanity Project that provides free microblading to people who may have lost their brows to cancer or alopecia.