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Sickle Cell Warriors: How Candyce Heather Finds Her Fit

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Mike Quain Photography

I was attending a Group Fitness Modality Training when I met another trainer by the name of Candyce Heather. We had a lot in common– as in life, we were the minorities in the room, African American women with very interesting hair to be more specific. In no effort to alienate ourselves, we began to chat, and it wasn’t until it was time for us to sit for our lecture that Candyce revealed to me she had Sickle Cell Anemia or Sickle Cell Disease.

During these trainings, we tend to sit for hours, in a room where the A/C is blasting, so Candyce pulled out layers and layers, and even brought out a plush blanket before finding her way to her seat. Everyone looked at her like she was insane because honestly, she appeared to be getting ready for the best adult-office nap of anyone’s life.

That’s when Candyce revealed to the rest of our colleagues that she was living with this chronic illness, which surprised most because when you look at Candyce, you see a healthy, fit, and fine individual. There’s no way anyone would know without her sharing this information. That’s why it’s commonly referred to as “The Invisible Disease”.

I’ve always known of Sickle Cell Anemia, but I was never clear on what it is or how it affects its carriers. It is a genetic disease that can result from each parent carrying the trait, which is carried in about 1 in every 12 African Americans. Sickle Cell Disease occurs in about 1 in every 365 African American births. While there are treatments for the disease, there is no widely available cure, although a stem-cell transplant procedure has been developed at the National Institutes of Health in Beth