Defying the Odds: How I Overcame Adversity

I am a junior who is attending Georgia State University to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Science for a career as a Pediatric Nurse. At birth, I was diagnosed with a genetic blood disorder called sickle cell anemia. Since my diagnosis, my life has been filled with the challenges of a chronic illness. I was hospitalized frequently for medical complications so it was difficult to live normally. I felt incapable of enduring the challenges of a chronic illness and often worried about my future. However, I learned strength, courage, and perseverance to defeat adversity and achieve my goals.

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic blood disorder characterized by its sickle-shaped red blood cells. Due to the irregular shape of the red cells, they often become lodged in blood vessel walls which prevent the delivery of oxygen to different parts of the body. When this happens, severe pain, also known as a pain crisis, is experienced in the legs, arms, and back. Often occurring without warning, a pain crisis can last from a few days to several weeks. /further complications of sickle cell anemia include infections, organ damage, stroke, and leg ulcers.

Receiving a diagnosis of a chronic illness is difficult for anyone but for a child, it can be particularly hard to comprehend. I am the youngest child in a set of triplets with two brothers. Learning that I had a chronic illness was devastating. I felt isolated from my brothers and had difficulty incorporating my disease into my life. I was distraught and saw no life for myself outside of a hospital . The emotional impact was immense. I wanted to live normally but found it difficult. Fortunately, frequent hospitalizations allowed me to bond with my nurses. They motivated me to focus on my abilities instead of my disease.

My education is important to me therefore I embraced learning and enjoyed attending school. Unfortunately, medical complications prevented me from attending school regularly. Therefore, I enrolled in my hospital’s school program. Participation gave me a sense of normalcy which improved my attitude. It kept me engaged in learning which helped me to maintain my academic skills. I felt productive which gave me the strength to persevere towards my academic goals. Throughout my academic career, I was consistently on the honor roll. While in high school, I was dual enrolled. In 2018, I graduated summa cum laude with my brothers.

~~Sydney Belcher

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