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March 20, 2017- Throughout this Care Walk season, we are highlighting stories of some of the amazing people whose efforts make this event a success for the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation and all the patients we serve. With so many Care Walks taking place on the same day, we hope that these stories will invite us all in for a glimpse of the fun and thalassemia awareness happening around the country. Special thanks goes to Brianna Gipson for sharing her story.
My name is Brianna, and I recently turned 16 years old this past January. As a senior in high school, I will be graduating this June and going to college in the fall. I have a sister and a brother, and my household consists of my mom, grandmother, me, and my sister. We are all originally from New York City, but we moved to Bushkill, Pennsylvania in 2007.
I was originally born with beta thalassemia minor, but it recently advanced to thalassemia intermedia. I also have the alpha thalassemia trait, which I inherited from my father. However, I have hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin, so the effects of the thalassemia is less significant than it would normally be.
I found the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation in 2016 when I was having abdominal pains and came to find out they were gallbladder complications from the thalassemia. After that incident, I became much more interested in thalassemia and how it affects different people.
This May, my mother and I decided to host our very own Care Walk as Team Bushkill Rocks. This will be my first time Care Walking for thalassemia, and I am very excited! Although I will be very busy this spring with senior events and AP testing, I am committed to making the Care Walk a success. Our Care Walk will take place at my high school, East Stroudsberg High School North, on May 7. My current goal is to raise $1,000 for CAF.
I think it is important to raise thalassemia awareness because not many people have heard of the disease and how it affects people. More awareness could possibly result in a cure for thalassemia in the future. Many people do not support disorders they haven’t heard about, instead they opt for well-known illnesses; however, I think all disorders, rare included, deserve recognition and support. I Care Walk to offer my support for other people affected by thalassemia around the world in hopes of a cure one day.
For anybody affected by thalassemia, I think it is always important to have a support system, such as your family, to work together to help minimize the symptoms. You should regularly visit your hematologist or doctor who specializes in blood disorders to monitor the thalassemia and your hemoglobin. For example, when I had my gallbladder crisis back in 2016, having my mother and grandmother there was very comforting and had I ignored the pain, I would have never found out that I had advanced to intermedia. Maintaining your health or child’s health is also critical, like exercising and eating fruits and vegetables. Your lifestyle habits should have a positive impact on the thalassemia.