Through the Pain, 25 Year-Old Eric Williams and Others Speak Out During National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Sickle Cell Disease sufferers from around Southern California banded together Wednesday to bring awareness for September’s National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, like Eric Williams, a 25-year-old who suffers from the genetic disease. (photo via nbclosangeles.com)

“You get slow throbs and it builds and then feels like someone is punching you, then stabbing you, then a building is coming down on you,” said Eric Williams, a 25-year-old living with the genetic disease.

As a child, Williams said he had more access to pediatricians who specialized in the disease.  As an adult, it’s considerably harder for him to find specialists in Los Angeles County, where he lives, that treat adults.

Dr. Susan Claster is one hematologist in Orange County who does treat adults, but has trouble handling a huge flux of patients by herself.  “I can’t see everybody, and we need to find others who are interested in seeing these patients,” Claster said. “That really frustrates me.”

California and eight other states recently received grant funding to expand treatment for sickle cell patients.

Williams, set to attend nursing school, said he won’t let the disease slow him down, and hopes to inspire others.  “I would like to inspire them by having them see you can go to college and get a job and be part of mainstream society – you just have to figure out your way to do it,” Williams said.

To learn more about Sickle Cell Disease, go to: http://sicklecelldisease.org/index.cfm?page=news&id=94

original article by Angie Crouch and Heather Navarro via nbclosangeles.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

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