My name is Dima Hendricks, and I am a sickle cell SURVIVOR. I was born with the debilitating (SS) disease and suffered from many complications over the years. Although my life has been filled with the pain and hundreds of hospitalizations, I have been a relentless advocate. In addition to facilitating health workshops and panel discussions, I served as a board member of the Greater Boston Sickle Cell Association.
Through the pain, I was a dance teacher.
Through the pain, I was able to receive a graduate degree.
Through the pain, I reigned as a pageant queen.
I held the titles of Miss Black Dorchester USA, Miss Black Massachusetts USA and Mrs. Massachusetts International.
Through the pain, I was able to start a family. (My proudest achievement)
I am finding as I get older, I am experiencing painful sickle cell crisis on a frequent basis. I stopped dancing and doing the things I love most. At this point, I just want to stay around longer for my young boys.
That is why, I am excited to announce that this summer, I will have gene therapy in hopes to diminish the painful symptoms of Sickle Cell. Gene therapy is a relatively new field of medicine that uses genetic material (mostly DNA). In gene therapy, the investigators introduce new genetic material to fix or replace my disease gene, with the goal of curing the disease.
The procedure is similar to a bone marrow transplant, in that my malfunctioning blood stem cells are reduced or eliminated using chemotherapy. However, this procedure is much different. Instead of using a different person's (donor) stem cells for the transplant, I will be using my stem cells. They are given back after the new genetic material is introduced into my sickled cells. If this works, I will be the first Sickle Cell patient cured from this procedure.
Funds will be used to help with costs associated with the procedure.
NOTE: I will have an extended hospital stay and will not be able to go back to work until October 2018.
Through the pain and in spite of the pain, I experienced an incredible life. I just want to know what if feels like to live pain-free. Maybe, I will have a chance at an exceptional life.
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God Bless and Thank you for your anticipated support.
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