Remembering Uncle Jhonnie this Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Monday, September 10, 2012 - 02:18 PM

Radio Rookie Bree Person

My name is Bree Person, I have Sickle Cell Anemia, and I’ve had it since the day I was born—17 years ago. Despite what some of my friends think, Sickle Cell is not a disease you can get rid of! It’s a genetic disease where red blood cells, which are normally shaped like discs, form a sickle, or crescent shape. Almost everyone who has Sickle Cell has painful episodes, called crises, that can last from hours to days. September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month and I thought I’d take the time to remember my uncle.

Uncle Jhonnie was a very caring and hilarious person. He would make me laugh at any joke he said. Even when he was sick, lying in his hospital bed, he’d say jokingly, “I don’t need to be here.” Sickle Cell is something we have in common, and he would often come visit me when I was in the hospital and joke about ways to help me sneak out. Sometimes he was actually a patient during those visits to my room and would tell me that I got him sick. I would laugh and say, “Yeah, okay Uncle Jhonnie.” He played a big part in helping me through those crises.

He also taught me a lot. Like I said, Uncle Jhonnie was funny, but when it came to actual treatment in the hospital, he was stern. He would demand the medicine he needed to get better. He wanted the best nurses putting a needle in his arm for his I.V. It took me a while to see why that was important.

One time I found myself sitting on a hospital bed with three nurses surrounding me trying over and over to give me my I.V. It was painful but it helped me to think back on how much my Uncle would put up with and what he taught me. I snatched my arm away and said, “I don’t want anymore needles!” They tried to get my arm back, but I spoke even louder and jerked away from them to show that this was enough.  I knew I had to stand up for myself, especially when it came to my well being. They brought in a doctor to give me my needle, and that was that. Just one of life’s lessons he taught me.

In June 2008, my Uncle passed away from the disease. Seeing him go through the same pains as me and watching him fight to the end, gives me strength to overcome my pain today. I learned to be patient with people who do not know about the disease. He has been a role model for me and still is.

Over the years I’ve been faced with many challenges that have affected my school and social life. In honor of Uncle Jhonnie and Sickle Cell Awareness Month I want to share, 5 things any teenager living with Sickle Cell should know! Here are some ways I’ve learned to cope:

  1. Always take the easier route to your destination. Instead of walking ten blocks, if possible take the train or bus. And if none of the above are available…walk slow! If you don’t, there’s a big chance you might get sick.
  2. Always have a best friend who knows about your disease. This person should know all the complications and side effects that come with having Sickle Cell. This is important because if something should happen to you, he/she will be there to assist and comfort you. I have a best friend named Danielle and she helps me with explaining it to teachers and understands why I might be absent from school.
  3. Always keep back-up medication with you. You know what helps you to recover and most of the time medicine from the store doesn't cut it. Always be prepared. There were times when I left my meds at home and was in pain and no store had my prescribed medication, so I had to go straight home and take my medication and relax for the rest of the day.
  4. Ask for extra work from your teachers in case you get into a crisis. If you’re ahead, coming back to school after spending a few days in the hospital won’t leave you behind when it comes to class and homework. For me it was difficult at first to do extra work in case I would be out, but in the end it paid off. Not only did I get what I needed done, my teacher saw that I was responsible enough to ask for more work.
  5. Know your limit! If you can’t do something, it’s okay to sit down. I’ve had times where I thought I needed to be the better person when it comes to sports, pushed myself too hard and found myself in the hospital later that day.

Want to learn more about Sickle Cell? Head over to the Sickle Cell Thalassemia Patients Network and become AWARE!


Stay tuned to hear Bree's radio story on growing up with Sickle Cell. Coming soon!


More in:

Comments [14]

Simone from NYVA from New York

Hi Bree,

I had the pleasure of meeting you the day you came to your MOM job and Me You and Your Mother was standing on the corner of 23rd street and First you remember? Anyway form the moment I met you and saw your smile I know you was a special and beautiful young lady. I told your MOM the same thing and that's when she said I should read your article about Sickle Cell and your Uncle....May He Rest In Peace. I was so touched and proud of you, first because your article is very inspiring and well written. Second to thank you for educating those of us who don't nothing about Sickle Cell or its side affects and how to cope with it. Third and My favorite, If your MOM didnt tell me you had the disease, I would not have known from your warm and friendly greeting you gave to me that day. You showed me that you have made up your mind to overcome this and not allow it to stop you from living your life to the fullest. Your are special Bree. keep up the good work :D

Sep. 24 2012 10:01 AM
Juan Jennings

I have met you. I am Winter's Grandfather. I read you article and enjoyed it. Your are very intelligent young lady and express yourself. You have a long and great future i front of you. Your one of those person people just don't forget. Keep it moving.

Sep. 19 2012 02:44 PM
veronica hopkins


Bree may god bless you as the person you are because you are a fighter just like your mother, never give up cupcake this world has alot to offer you in life.

Sep. 19 2012 09:43 AM
Titi from NY

Hi Bree,
Am so proud of you, continue to trust in the Lord, not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will continue to direct your path Eph 3:5.

Love ya and Good Bless!

Sep. 19 2012 09:18 AM

Thank you everyone for your positive comments. You and many more are my inspiration to keep writing and uncle jhonnie played a big part in paving the way for me to accept my disease as a challenge of life instead of as a crippling one.

Sep. 15 2012 11:34 PM
Trenda from NY

Bree!!!!!!!!! Speechless! All I could do was cry! From one artist to another........I love your work!

Sep. 15 2012 11:28 PM

This was truly inspirational, and I'm happy you shared this. Uncle Johnnie was a true to me hero to me, a true hero to many of those who had genetic diseases and showed many what it is to be a true warrior of Sickle Cell Anemia. I'm also happy you explained in great detail what it is to have the disease and what to do withstand it. Great job sis, you a boss for this one!!

Sep. 15 2012 04:57 PM
Linda Person

Hi Breezy!

This is a very informative article and a grand salute to Uncle Johnnie. Like everyone else, I am so very proud of you and your accomplishments while dealing with Sickle Cell. Keep up the great work and I can't wait to read your work in some national/international publications. Love you much & you are in our prayers!!!

Sep. 15 2012 04:31 PM

Bree you are such a brave young lady and I'am so very proud of you. This is a great tribute to your uncle, and I know he would of been very proud of you and your accomplishments may God bless you. This was a job well done!I could not have ask for a sweeter granddaughter than you. Ilove you so much. I know your mother is so proud of you, thank God for your mother each day because I know she thank god for you and the joy you brought to her life. Again job well done!!!! Love grandmom Gloria.

Sep. 12 2012 10:41 PM
Carmen Rodriguez

That was great Ms.Bree.

Sep. 12 2012 08:27 PM
Betty Ferguson

This was such an inspiring message. Johnny taught all of us what true strength is and I thank God for your strength and determination as well.

Sep. 12 2012 04:53 PM
Auntie Kim from Maryland

This brought me to tears.....I hope more people understand the importance understanding this blood disorder. My brother Johnnie was and will always be my hero. Bree well done you did an outstanding job! And I pray one day your cure will come. You have a great work to be done and I know you will make it come to pass.

Sep. 12 2012 02:09 PM

This article was very informational and a amazing tribute to your uncle I know he so very proud of you and all of your accomplishments. Job well done !

Sep. 12 2012 01:11 PM
Karen person

BRAVO!!!!! you are so amazing!

Sep. 11 2012 11:07 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.



Supported by