WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - June 19 is Sickle Cell Awareness Day. It is a disease that affects 100,000 people in the US.
Sickle Cell Anemia is where red blood cells become rigid or sticky. They are shaped like crescent moons and can block the flow of blood an oxygen.
Through raising her son Malik, Janis Waldon knows firsthand how difficult it can be for families affected by the disease.
“My son, he's been diagnosed with Sickle Cell from birth,” she said, “I found traveling from Wichita Falls to Fort Worth going to Cook Children’s, there were no support systems in the Wichita Falls area for families here.”
So, she started the Wichita Falls Sickle Cell Support Group.
Janis is helped by board member and friend Kasaundera Jones. They meet every month to educate the public and offer a helping hand to families impacted by Sickle Cell.
“We're trying to reach parents, we're trying to reach grandparents that can spread the word, just to get the information out,” Kasaundera said.
They share information like who is most likely to be diagnosed with Sickle Cell, which happens to be African Americans followed by Hispanic Americans.
The support group also makes people aware of the Sickle Cell Trait, which children with sickle cell inherit from both parents.
Severe pain is one of the symptoms of the disease, so they bring books to the meetings about managing pain and books about natural medicine that might help.
It is not only health resources that the group offers. In the past they even helped raise money for a family to buy an air conditioner in the summer.
The chance to help those in need is why Janis continues to spread awareness of Sickle Cell with her support group, to give families a sense of community.
“It's a good feeling, it's a good rewarding feeling when you're knowing you can give back,” Janis said.
The group meets every third Saturday at Denny's on Kemp Blvd. Their next meeting will be July 20 at 3 pm.
They are also planning to have a 2K walk on September 28 in honor of Sickle Cell Awareness Month. To learn about the support group: wichitafallssicklecell.org