Back to the story...
Right when acting opportunities started to come in, I start to have even more painful and physically crippling Sickle Cell Anemia Pain Crisis. The words that I put in bold in the following articles of reference that describe what a Sickle Cell Pain Crisis is; those are the symptoms that I had and felt all my life. Coincidentally, those are also the things that began to completely incapacitate me and quickly began to try to undo all of the hard work that I had been doing for years, more importantly, the past two years! The following references and links that are provided below will help me to better explain the rest of my story, while helping you to better understand what I went through.
After my last trip from Atlanta to New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore and back to Atlanta again; my life and the ongoing, constant acute Sickle Cell Pain Crisis that I had been experiencing non-stop, dramatically changed for the worse. Instead of being in the hospital, getting out of the hospital and be able to travel in a moderate amount of pain to model and the come back home to get: I.V. fluids (Intravenous fluids), Pain Medications (Dilaudid, Fentanyl, Ibuprofen, Torodol etcetera), blood transfusion(s) (ranging from one to multiple blood transfusions given per visit to the doctor's office, ER or in the hospital), Rest (Uninterrupted, consistent sleep) and heat therapy (Heating pad(s) and heating blankets that are place on and around the areas with pain. Heat therapy helps to open the constricted veins, capillaries that are blocking/ clotting the cells of the body causing various types of pain to be inflicted upon the individual in multiple areas of the body).
My pain began to intensify and it made me unable to travel, let alone go anywhere that I needed to, wanted to, wished to go, without severely paying for with a severe pain crisis.
So, I went from traveling and chasing my dreams of being a professional model/ actor turn SUPERMODEL to being a young woman watching her disease take away everything that she had worked and fought so hard to achieve, within a matter of months.
At that point in time, Sickle Cell Anemia (Disease) had taken away my modeling career, my social life (friends, dating, going out for anything at all); it also started to take away my dreams of life, happiness, success, friendships, relationships and most importantly good health.
As my life as I had known it started to slip away from me, my priorities began to change. God began to show me, who and what was really important in life. I started to lose friends, associates, family members and business associates. People who I thought would be there for me when I needed them most disappeared. And in their place, God revealed to me who my real, true family members, friends, associates and business associates were. People who I had not heard from since I was a child and family members who I thought did not think that much of me, were actually the ones who called, came to my bedside when I was in the hospital and comforted me when we were unsure if I was going to see the next week (better yet, the next few days).
Funny thing is, my mother, father, little sister, brother and I grew even closer! They knew that I was fighting for my life every single time I was hospitalized, and they were right there calling me, staying with me in the hospital, comforting me, loving me, supporting me and rooting for me with God guiding us every second of every minute of every hour of every day!
Before, during and after every hospitalization, doctor's visit (being medicated in hopes of keeping me out of the hospital and emergency room), emergency room visits and so on and so forth: my parents, my hematologist Doctor Carmen Klass and my Bone Marrow Transplant team leader (who is the Director of Bone Marrow Transplants & Stem Cell Research at Emory Hospital, head of research and the doctor who would be heading/ leading) and the doctor who would be treating me Doctor Edmund Waller; they would talk to each other and push the insurance companies, heads of the experimental new study (that I would be the first person to ever do it period) the STRIDE-HCT study and basically anyone and everyone who was holding up the experimental new study to cure me of my Sickle Cell Anemia/ Sickle Cell Disease.
Apparently, they were not moving fast enough for my body because I started to contract several viral and bacterial infections, along with a blood clot in my lungs on top of the ongoing and growing in severity acute Sickle Cell Pain Crisis.
(MY FULL STORY WILL BE PROVIDED IN MY BOOK THAT I AM COMPLETING)
CUT TO MY PARENTS HOME, AFTER MY LAST NEAR-DEATH HOSPITALIZATION:
Finally, my parents, my little sister, the insurance companies, the doctors on the STRIDE-HCT research team, my hematologist and myself were all on the same accord, same page. Since I very nearly died during my last hospitalization due to the blood clot and infection; every single individual on my teams, teamed together to fix whatever problems there were so that they could proceed with my Bone Marrow Transplant. Even though I was the fifteenth adult to ever get cured of Sickle Cell Anemia in America and or the world; I AM THE #1 ADULT IN THE UNITED STATES AND WORLD to be CURED of SICKLE CELL ANEMIA (aka SICKLE CELL DISEASE) under the newest, best one and only STRIDE- HCT bone marrow transplant study!
NONE of this would have ever have been possible if my little sister, my angel, my donor: Samantha, had never agreed to be my donor!
God sent my family and me our little angel Samantha!
God gave her a strength, love, will and heart that few people on this very EARTH will ever possess.
She made up her mind, all on her own to save my life, even before she knew that she was my exact match bone marrow wise (amongst other things). Before I had finally decided that I wanted the bone marrow transplant, before the pain began to intensify and before I began to be in the hospital/ doctor's office and emergency rooms more than I was at home; my little sister volunteered to help saved me.
Before and after finding out that she was a match for me for the transplant, my little sister would come to me, tell me she loved me, that she hated seeing me in pain and that she would do whatever she could to help me stop the pain. And every single time she did that, I cried like a baby! How could this little girl be so strong, fearless, know what all she would have to do in order to save me and still love me and be the strength that I was missing, that I needed!
My little sister and my older brother were the ones who finally changed my mind and made me give this a chance and see if this was for me (a year before I was modeling non-stop and two years before I almost died from my blood clot and infection).
I thank the LORD every single time I think about EVERY SINGLE THING that He has overcame for me and helped me overcome!
If somebody would have told me that I would be here a year ago, two years ago or even a month ago; I probably would not have believed them. But it is amazing, how God places people, family, friends so on and so forth in your life who you will need or vice versa, before they are needed. Everything always works out in the end. And if it has not worked out, then it is not the end!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SAMANTHA & HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY TO ME TOO!!!
P.S.- I want to say thank you to every single one of my loved ones who came to visit me and called to reach out to me in my time of need.
I would like to send a special thank you to: Johnnie (my mother), Francis (my father), Carmocio (my brother), Grandma Mary, Grandpa Calvin Harrison, Natasha Harrison, Miss Cynthia, Tariq, Samad, Leanna, Barbera Galloway, Jamia, Nicolaus and Samantha Benson (My Hero)!
I love you all so much more than words can say!!!
October 30, 2012 - My Second Chance at Life
Today is October 30, 2012 my new birthday, my bone marrow transplant birthday, the day that my little sister Samantha donated some of her bone marrow to me, giving me new life.
If it were not for my family (Mother, Father, Sister & Brother), I never would have made the choice to have a bone marrow transplant in the first place. I was so scared and afraid and I thought that there was NO WAY on this earth that I was going to die or even come close to dying. Well let me tell you; I was wrong! God had a plan put in place from the very beginning. And needless to say, He showed me that if I did not get the bone marrow transplant, that I was going to die from Sickle Cell Anemia related complications!
In the two years preceding my bone marrow transplant to cure my Sickle Cell Anemia,
I was either hospitalized anywhere from 3 to 10 days or rushed to the ER (emergency room), every 30 days. And in between hospital/ emergency room visits, I would go upstate to New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Maryland and other states, where I would model professionally with Wilhelmina PA. Just before I began to get extremely sick, I was in the beginning stages of transitioning into acting with a liaison for Wilhelmina of PA and Wilhelmina (New York).
It is amazing to me that right when my modeling and acting career was starting to take off, that God can show you just how much you need Him and just how vulnerable you really are. God showed me that I have the talent and that I can make it in the modeling, acting, entertainment industry. He also showed me that my body, as it was sick and getting weaker by the week; that my spirit was even stronger and that my body needed to change in order to fit my destiny.
Constance Benson: Sickle Cell Story's ROAD2THECURE