Patient Stories

Fighting Sickle Cell…and Winning!

Princess_250Princess Gant has sickle cell disease, a blood disorder that impacts her body’s ability to carry oxygen to tissues effectively.  The disease negatively affects every body system, including her heart, lungs, eyes, brain, gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and even skin.

She is doing all she can to fight the effects of her disease. For people with sickle cell disease, eating healthy and exercising are vital to maintaining a normal body weight and helps prevent complications like diabetes and early heart disease.

Princess and her family participate in the Children’s Blood & Cancer Center’s (CBCC) physical activity training program, Survivor Challenge.  They meet every week in Mueller Park near Dell Children’s Medical Center with other patients, family members, and CBCC staff. Each patient teams up with a buddy and learns to safely warm up, stretch, run, and cool down. After eight weeks, the group participates in a 5K run and celebrates at a special luncheon.

“We have done Survivor Challenge twice,” says Princess. “My running buddy is Dr. Patel, and she is also my therapist.”

Nichole Gant is thrilled that her children are learning how to stay healthy and fit. “Survivor Challenge allows us to go out and do healthy things as a family,” she says. “It enables Princess to create a bond and trust with her health caregivers in a completely non-threatening environment. It”s a lot of fun and a huge accomplishment for us to all finish the 5K!”

“Most importantly,” she adds, “it allows Princess to safely push her physical boundaries and helps her see she can accomplish almost anything if she’s eating right, staying hydrated, and staying fit.”

1-PrincessThe Gants also participate in Food Fight for Life, the CBCC’s nutrition program. Princess was surprised to find out that Food Fight for Life turned out to be a cooking class.

“I really did think we were actually going to throw food at each other,” she laughs.

She and her family enjoyed learning how to make healthy snacks, including flatbread pizzas, turkey and cheese rollups, and a tasty drink that’s a healthy alternative to soda. The Gants are all anxiously awaiting the next class in February.

“Princess’ health and quality of life have both improved a great deal over the past 12 months,” says Jennifer Tiller, RN, CPNP. “I credit her and her mother with making the strides necessary to bring about these changes, and participating in Survivor Challenge and Food Fight for Life has been a big part of this. We are very proud of her!”