RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 8News is taking the lead with raising money for Sickle Cell Disease in Central Virgina.
8News anchor Whitney Harris met some of the people taking part in the upcoming Unity Ride for Sickle Cell Disease to see their personal reasons for wanting to raise awareness.
Sitrena Woodson has Sickle Cell, but she was not diagnosed until she was in her 40’s.
“They knew that I was always a sickly child or a sickly person. I catch colds really easily, I was always in pain, but at that time they didn’t have all of the testing,” she said. “They always knew I had the Sickle Cell trait but as I got older I started having a lot of symptoms and getting sick quite often with some major issues.”
People with Sickle Cell have some cells in the shape of a “C,” which can block blood flow causing extreme pain. This is what’s called a “crisis.”
“I’ve had days where, you know, I couldn’t move, and then I just have days when I’m really achy,” Woodson said. “So it’s just it’s just hard to push through.”
Sitrena’s outlet away from the pain is riding her motorcycle.
“That was what kind of brought me back to life, just being able to get out on the bike and get some freedom and some air and just travel,” Woodson said.
Steven Delaney also rides. His 19-year-old stepson Rayshaun Mason has Sickle Cell.
“When I met him, I didn’t know the extent of the disease as far as the pain, the long stays in the hospital — weeks, sometimes,” Delaney said.
For Rayshaun, it’s hard to even explain the pain.
“I’m trying to think of the words to describe it. Have you ever had a very harsh throbbing pain that won’t go away? It’s like that,” Rayshaun said.
And you can only imagine how hopeless it makes his mom, Angela Delaney, feel when Rayshaun has a crisis.
“It’s a battle watching your child in pain and not being able to do anything about it,” she said. “It has affected all parts of his body and he’s in excruciating pain to the point where some of the strongest medicines don’t help.”
Angela Delaney said she didn’t know much about the disease before her son was diagnosed.
“I was in the dark about the disease, I didn’t know how you got it, I didn’t know I had the trait,” said Angela Delaney.
And that’s why awareness is key. If both parents have a sickle cell trait, doctors say there’s a 25 percent chance their child will have Sickle Cell. So it’s important to get tested.
Steve Delaney and Sitrena Woodson are riding their motorcycles to help raise that awareness. And they’ll be joined by many others in just a few months during the Sickle Cell Unity Ride on May 6 at the Petersburg Health Department from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Sickle Cell Association of Richmond.