I recall when my senior pastor asked me to share my testimony about having sickle cell anemia. I was apprehensive at first because I wasn’t ready to share such an intimate detail of my life. I also felt that I would be placed in the category of not normal. I hadn’t yet embraced the diagnoses, dealt with the symptoms, and fully understood the constant pain I experience because of having sickle cell anemia. My hesitation also stemmed from the shame I felt from the many emergency room visits. The lack of compassion of some nurses when I attempted to explain my level of pain as an adult. My reservations were embedded deep within by missed opportunities and canceled events due to my physical inability to attend. Missing out of most of my adolescent activities and the fear of dying at a young age plagued my mind and tainted many of my relationships. I almost made the mistake of allowing this sickness to dictate to me how to live.
Sickle cell anemia crippled my existence until I made up my mind that I would run better, fight better, I would be better. My first outlet was basketball. I was mean on the court. Yes, I ran out of breath faster than everyone else, but I still won. However, Basketball, unfortunately, was abruptly taken away from me when my doctor wouldn’t allow me to play for my high school basketball or football team because he felt it was too dangerous. Once again shame slapped me in the face. I was so discouraged I stop playing basketball altogether. Imagine living life ashamed without a purpose or at least knowledge of what your purpose was; such a life would be a great picture of hell; therefore I wrote about it! I wrote poems, raps, and plays. I wrote, I wrote myself out of depression; I wrote until I made myself forget I was sick. It got to the point that whenever a sickle cell crisis hit me, I would keep it to myself. I would take myself to the hospital do my time and return like nothing ever happened. I continued in this manner until the conviction to share my story was much stronger than hiding behind my pride and shame. I thought what story. The story of not being good enough, strong enough, healthy enough to be taken seriously or trusted with big opportunities because no one was sure if my body was going to hold up. Of course, no one ever said this, but I knew that what they thought.
Then on my 24th birthday a former mentor blessed my soul with the most beautiful word that would immediately impact how I viewed my life. He said, “Chris no one knows the pain you go through but always remember pain is always associated with The Cross. No matter how famous you get, no matter how much money you make stay near the cross, always want the cross. I instantly thought of the pain Jesus Christ endured for me. Which installed a new form of shame in my life? Now I was embarrassed that I was too ashamed to tell my story. Who was I to keep my pain to myself? The truth of the matter is I have always been blessed. I have known so many fellow sickle cell warriors that lost their battles. I know so many sickle cell warriors that are in & out the hospital weekly. Sickle cell warriors that have had strokes, heart attacks, repeated blood transfusions. So many parents with a sicker child that cry because they can only give there baby medication to take the pain away. Who was I to not provide hope to people with sickle cell and other diseases?
My name is Christopher Leger, and I have sickle cell anemia SC. Every time a sickle cell crisis hit me instead of allowing it to be a permanent roadblock God allowed me to turn it into a detour and kept crawling, Instead of giving up I kept walking, instead of being defeated I kept running. All I ask is that you run with me. I choose to live