In desperate quest for a cure to my Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) some years ago, I stumbled on the bone marrow transplant as a solution to SCD; this method would usually involve chemotherapy at a stage. I imagined it would be a tortuously painful process. Somehow each time the thought crossed my mind, peace eluded me. I resolved to stick to living with the SCD instead of putting myself through unfamiliar stress or letting anyone gamble with my life. For me, SCD was enough gambling; a pain free week almost seemed like a luxury. I know each new day comes with its own blessings as well as hurdles to cross, so I remain thankful.
On 29th October, 2015, I received quite a number of text messages, emails and calls from family and friends, informing me, and somewhat congratulating me on the permanent cure for SCD without chemotherapy; an assumed less painful process using stem cells from a healthy sibling. I was amazed as I only received this much attention on my birthday so I guess it was another birthday for me; only, one I wasn’t too excited about. So far in my life, it seemed this was what I’d term, the best news ever; at least, at that moment, that’s how everyone made me feel.
Despite the massive excitements that filled the air, I was shocked at myself. All I had were mixed feelings. Instead of reveling in this new liberating information, my mind was flooded with questions whose answers I might never ponder long enough to find. Has this new method worked for anyone yet? How successful has it been? Is it life threatening? Will it bring about more complications in the end? What are its side effects? How serious will these be? How does one access the treatment? What is the estimated cost involved? What if there are no siblings whose stem cells can be used? Can any other person be a donor? As it is often done in our society, do the wealthy kids also come first if there has to be some kind of protocol for this treatment? When the stem cell transplant and the whole process is complete, the patient will have to be placed on some immunosuppressive medications for at least a year or even for life. These medications actually break down the efficacy of the immune system, rendering the patient susceptible to all forms of infections.
After giving this whole new process some thought, I decided to look at the bright side. With this new cure, SCD might be completely eradicated someday. It means SCD is not completely forgotten by the national, and even the international policy makers. It means we have people out there still fighting for a remedy to SCD. It means we can laugh heartily and genuinely someday, and live totally crisis-free. It means we should never throw in the towel, we need to fight on and keep on the faith because there is a breath of fresh air. I get excited when I think of the new process in this manner and I am resolved to keeping my hope alive. Yes, there might finally be a cure for SCD.