Keron Stephen 

My name is Keron Stephen and I have the sickle cell trait. I was diagnosed with the trait and I knew I had it from when I was a small child. I graduated from King/Drew in the year of 2010 at the age of 19. I'm not the type of person who likes school, so I didn't attend college. I did want to do something with my life so I joined the Navy. I read up on the Navy and liked what I read. I was excited. I couldn't wait to ship out because I wanted to wear that uniform and serve my country. I shipped out on the 25th of January in 2011. I arrived to Chicago and from there I was gonna start my military career. As soon as I arrived on military grounds it was fast pace. For the first few days we were getting familiarized with our surroundings and RDCs. Coming closer to being assigned our division/ships we had to undergo many vaccinations also known as P5 day. Multiple shots were given to 

us. During a IT/PT session my whole life changed. 

My whole division was working out and all of a sudden I felt my thighs cramp up. I've never had cramps in my thighs, so I decided to sit down for a minute because it was something I've never felt before. I tried to get up but I couldn't and I was scared. I notified my Chief that I couldn't get up so she called the ambulance. While on my way to the hospital the pain became unbearable to the point where I was crying uncontrollably. When I got to the hospital I couldn't take it anymore so I was given a medication to put me to sleep. The next day I woke up, tried to get up but I couldn't because I couldn't feel my legs at all. Come to find out I couldn't walk because the muscles in both of my thighs had broken down and I was diagnosed with Rhabdomyolysis. 

Finding this out I went into a deep depression because I was 19 and I was spending my military career in the hospital. I was also depressed because I turned 20 in the hospital and I had no family to fly out to Chicago to see me. All I had was the hospital phone. Being depressed I called my mom to help me feel better. I was so deep into depression I told myself I don't want to ever walk again. I gave up on myself. 

Having talked to my mama every day she told me to trust in the Lord and I did. I went to church every Sunday. The hospital sent a care giver to pick me up everySunday and I went. I felt better about everything that I went through and decided that I am gonna learn how to walk again. I spent a total of 4 months in the hospital. 2 months being depressed and the other 2 learning how to walk again. I still have pain until this day and I'm 22 now and I have a lot of limitations. I can't stand for long periods of time, run long distances, do certain activities and many other things. While doing research after all of this happened I came to find out that I was given a shot that I wasn't suppose to receive. It was suppose to help my muscles deal with the exercises, but in actually it put a major damper on my life. I still thank God for what I went through. Now I can share my story and hopefully encourage others who also suffer from the sickle cell trait. It's possible I have another gene condition along with SCT. Stay Tuned!!

William McCoy

My name is William McCoy. On Dec 10th 2010, I was admitted in to Cheyenne Regional Hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  I was placed in ICU for an unknown medical issue after collapsing during the mile and a half run for the Air Force physical fitness test.  Days later I was diagnosed with a sever case of rhabdomyolysis (which is a rapid breakdown of muscle tissue in the body), which may have been triggered by me having sickle cell trait.  Living and working in Cheyenne, which is at an altitude of 6,000 feet deprives the normal person the oxygen content that may be found at sea level.  Having sickle cell trait, where a portion of my blood cells are in a “sickle shape” compounds that effect even more.   As the muscle tissue broke down, it was fed into my blood stream and clogged my kidneys, which later shut down. The doctors related my condition to putting a steak in the blender, and trying to run it through the blood stream.  After tests, they found that my CPK levels were 139,000 (approximate, need to find medical records. I just know that it was six figures).  During this time I was unable to talk and was described as being in a “coma like state.”  I stopped talking and responding to outside stimulation.  My body was shutting down and at the time, doctors had no idea what to do.

After a few days, it was determined what was going on and that dialysis was needed to save my life.  After a number of treatments, on Dec 23rd 2012 my family and friend’s prayers would be answered.  While a co-worker was visiting I sat up and began to talk.  Shortly after, I began physical therapy to learn how to walk again because the muscle tissue in my legs had deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t support my own weight. Throughout that whole ordeal, it wasn’t until I was released Jan 4th from the hospital that I was able to fully grasp exactly what happened and hear the testimonies from people I didn’t know and how they prayed for me every day.  I then began to realize that there is definitely power in prayer, even when I was too ill to pray for myself. 

Prior to this incident, I was unaware of the potential health risks associated with having sickle cell trait.  In high school, I was active in track and varsity basketball with no previous issues.  While studying Biology as an undergrad at Alabama State University, I remember reading about sickle cell in my Genetics book.  When mentioning sickle cell trait, the author made no mention of possible dangers.  After moving to Wyoming, I noticed that I had the tendency to become short of breath and that I did not have the same stamina that I was used to.  My understanding was that like most people, it would just take some time to adjust to the high altitude.  It turns out that a number of triggers came together on that unfaithful day in that I was recovering from a cold and was slightly dehydrated. 

While some would be upset about having a serious medical trauma, I have found that God allows seemingly bad things to happen to us so we may be a light to others.  I hope that by telling my story, others will want to get tested for sickle cell trait if they have not done so already.  And for those who do have sickle cell trait, please be sure to stay properly hydrated and take care of your body. 

Beverly "Turquoise" Thompson

The summer just before my freshman year began at UCLA I set a USA national youth record. This feat resulted in high expectations of me. The school was counting on me to be a big-time contributor. Happy as can be and hungry for the future, I came to practice every day ready to work. During one of our preseason workouts, I caught a severely painful muscle cramp in my hamstring. Most track runners know that if a cramp is that sever it generally results scale back. This means because the cramp was so massive and slight strain or tear has occurred the athlete must take an entire week or more off from training. Upon return, the athlete then has to rehab the injury and decrease their aggression interns of training.

I was devastated that this had happened to me. Not only because it happened, but because it had happened many times before this. Cramping was not new to me it was nearly normal routine.  I always fought through it though, and mainly by the grace of God persevered. The difference that I felt with this episode was that I immediately felt defeated. Although I was accustomed to dealing with this, it was nothing I desired to continuously go through. After the initial check up with our trainer, routinely, I received a bag of ice and was told to rest. 

I made my way to the locker room hoping no one was there so that I can finally cry. While there, I questioned God, if I'm such a "wonderful talent" why then does this keep happening to me. And like a star fallen from the sky, I saw a paper on the countertop. It caught my attention because right at the top in big bold lettering it said "NCAA SICKLE CELL TRAIT FACT SHEET". I immediately remembered oh I have this! As I reminisced on a time in 6th grade when my mother took me to get my nose cauterized due to frequent nosebleeds. I remembered he and I holding hands as we left the hospital and she told me "baby you have sickle cell trait, it has to do with your blood okay" I asked further questions and she explained to me how if I ever got married it shouldn't be to a man who also has sickle cell trait because then I wouldn't be able to have babies with him.

Following my ah, ha! Moment I proceeded to read the bullet points. Soon those bullet points looked more like check marks. Considering that as I read each bullet pointed symptom a sickle cell trait athlete would have I literally became that paper. Every single thing on it I had experienced time and time again. Asthma, constant or frequent muscle discomfort, trouble with fast Spurt running, trouble breathing at high altitude and the list goes on. 


Immediately I shared this with my parents, they did their research and we scheduled a meeting with my coaches and trainers to strategize just how we would maintain my condition so that I remain a top athlete. My coaches and I made sure I was hydrated after every interval, allowed my own pace or me to even stop if necessary, changed my diet, and worked on our communication in terms of how my body felt I went on to become champion. I achieved titles I never thought my body would allow such as Two times PAC 12 champion, Two time NCAA Runner up / three-time finalist, Olympic trials finalist and so much more. My journey still isn't over, now I am a professional track athlete and plan on adding many more championships to my name.

Sickle Cell trait prevention 

"Disappearing the ignorance"  Fill out survey here: