Jackie & Jalessa

"I have the trait. My mom has sickle cell disease. When I was in school, it affected it a lot because I'm a only child. If my mom was sick, I would have to miss school to stay with her or to go to appointments and things like that. When I was really younger, like elementary school, I would miss maybe a week or two every other month.

At first, they were trying to handle it like a truancy like I was cutting class or something because when my mom was sick, she wasn't able to call and say, 'Hey, she can't come in today.' Slowly they got on board to see I was staying home to help mom and then they would help out.

I've taken semesters off of college. I finished college two and a half semesters later because I had to take out a lot of time, but she doesn't have any other children, and I don't have another mom. I wouldn't have it any other way." - Jaleesa (Jackie's daughter)

"I have the sickle cell disease. It's not contagious. I got mine through my mother and father. It was a real big deal. I'm the only one in my family who has sickle cell disease. My sisters have the trait. It’s just me. I got five older than me and five younger me. I felt like I didn't belong there, because of me having the disease. I was always sick growing up. I was always small. I can’t gain no weight, and that’s fine with me. That’s the best part about it."

"It's invisible. You can't see it. It's not like breast cancer. Everyone cares for breast cancer. Everyone feels that they should get the utmost treatment, but sickle cell is the little dark secret that no one talks about, no one knows about really too much. They don't get as much services as they should."