A Mother's Love
We met a few years ago at the Roanoke Throwbacks game. My good friend, Veronica Waddell said to me, “You’ve got to meet Denise!” Me being busy with hosting the game and trying to keep everything flowing right, heard her but didn’t hear her. “Denise has a son with Sickle Cell...” is what was the connection, however for some reason it just didn’t click to me at that time.
I watched my new found friend working diligently with the others on the throwbacks committee that day. Lending a hand at the ticket booth, smiling at the table as people came in, and I said to myself, she’s a natural at this.
Being a help, smiling all while giving people what they needed. That’s just what Denise Henderson does.
It wasn’t until a few years later that it registered why my friend was telling me I needed to meet her. Here I am a father of children #LivingWithSickleCell doing what I could to #GetTheWordOut about this disease was in need of a nurturing person , a mother, who had the same passion to help me with this mission.
I remember the first time we talked, she told me all these things her journey as a parent with a child living with sickle cell had taught her and some of the things she’s had to do in order to help her Shaun battle Sickle Cell his 31 years on this planet. All this time I had been looking for someone who understood the pain a parent endures watching their child suffer during crises. Looking for answers that may be available in areas where there is a higher population of folks with Sickle Cell. Knowing the challenges of having to seek help and not always getting what was needed.
This mother’s love had me say, it’s time I start making room for another powerful voice to be heard at Faith 4 A Cure. It was time to tell someone else’s story.
Starting the beginning of this year, we did just that. After getting with Denise and Shaun to sit and talk with them about their journey, that gift of helps went into overdrive. Denise immediately went to work and coordinated our Sickle Cell Support Group. She not only compiled a plethora of great information to put out to the attendees, she even bought the chicken to eat as well. Tell me that’s not a mother’s love for your ass!
Though she smiles all the time, evidence of the pure heart she embodies, you can still tell when Shaun isn’t doing well. Sure he’s 31 and his own man with a wife and friends as part of his support system, but one thing I’ve learned along my journey of life is that there is still nothing stronger than a mother’s love for their child, No matter how old they are, it’s something in their DNA that can’t handle pain or hurt befalling their “baby.”
The “shy-type”, I knew it would be a task to get Denise to start speaking in front of people. Just like every other challenge she’s faced, she knocked that out too. She recorded a video now available to the world on YouTube asking the question, “What do you know about Sickle Cell.” With detailed answers that almost seem as though she’s a doctor or something, she still adds in her touch of what it feels like as a mother to go through with her son.
Not only has she worked diligently to up the participation of the support group, she was one of the first people in line to volunteer to donate blood. For those who don’t know, in times of a sickle cell crises, a blood transfusion is oftentimes the only way to bring relief to the patient. Now a person with sickle cell trait, which each parent of a child living with sickle cell has, will not be a candidate for blood used during the transfusion, leading by example is her way of getting more of us to come out and donate.
I’m fortunate to have met this young lady. The way she encourages me to stay on the line is something I try to do for others. I have my way of doing things, but her touch is the balance that has me encouraged that regardless of how bleak it may seem at times for those living with sickle cell, there are special people like Denise that has Faith for a Cure!
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