Anne-Chantal Ayuk Besong, a sickle cell patient narrates how her family could overcome the disease amidst other odds.
“Sickle cell should not be considered a fatality because for over 30 years, I have lived with the disease”. This is a statement made by Anne-Chantal Ayuk Besong, a journalist and sickle cell patient living in Yaounde. Born in a family where she, two of her brothers and an elder sister where diagnosed SS, while a brother and another sister had the genes but not the disease, Anne-Chantal Besong says although the disease is hereditary and that there is no cure, there is no call for alarm. Anne-Chantal says children born with the disease can have normal healthy lives with the right amount of exercise, good feeding, proper rest and drinking of lots of water.
The journalist narrates her encounter with sickle cell which dates back to when little was known about the disease and being in a family with four children having the disease was considered a huge misfortune. The good thing is that Anne-Chantal’s parents never let their health situation weaken them but resolved to make them exemplary citizens. “Being pedagogues, with strict principles, my parents taught me and my siblings that we were not different from other children despite the finger pointing at school. We were trained to earn everything we had. We were taught that hard work pays at a very young age I learnt how to do things normal children my age would not like doing. I went to the farm on holidays, cultivated cassava, melon, yams, and plantains and during school days I walked to school. Most times the distance was very long but I walked at my own pace and as my strength will permit me not because there was no car, but because it was part of my upbringing”, Anne-Chantal narrated.
According to Anne-Chantal, the hard parts of living with the disease were when she was sick of malaria and that triggered intense pains in her bones, particularly around the joints. Having a C-shaped red blood cell instead of a circular one, meant that during such crisis Anne-Chantal’s red blood cells will not normally move as a circular red blood cell will and these were the moments of horror for her. During such moments, she learnt to develop a g faith in herself, in God. “At a very young age, I learnt how to have a g will, and keep a positive mind frame. Being fearful never did anyone any good, not even to none sickle cell people”, Anne Chantal underscored. The moments of illness then, where very expensive for Anne-Chantal’s family and as such her parents learnt to prioritise on her feeding alongside that of her other siblings. “Good feeding made up of lots of fruits, vegetables, lots of water, in addition to constant intake of Folic acid, proper rest and little stress and strain kept Chantal and her siblings alive and well until the day one of them died as a result of medical negligence. She also remembers there were days when the money was available to buy the drugs she and her siblings needed but the drugs were not available because the roads were bad and cars bringing medical supplies could not reach the hospitals or pharmacies in the towns they were living. “Those where scary moments when I came close to death more than once but also when having parents who did not give up paid off”, Anne-Chantal stressed out.
The worst part of living with the disease was the treatment Anne-Chantal got from some of my school mates especially while in primary and secondary school. The isolation, the taunts and later on the analysis by prospecting husbands and their families who will cross examine Anne-Chantal Besong as if her having sickle shape red blood cells automatically ticked her off the marriage charts. But the victim of isolation says she has learned to soar above all these.Presently as an adult, and a journalist, Anne-Chantal look back at those moments and realise how they made her who she is now hard working, g with experiences that she is able to share with others so that people understand that SS victims are not witches or wizards as some people will want them to belief.
Source : Cameroon Tribune