Her story: Tesha Samuels was diagnosed with SCD at the age of 3 years. She almost lost her life several times over the years, and she recently suffered a miscarriage. But she is well aware that others are worse off than her. She has felt well enough to work consistently since she was 17, and she has been with the D.C. Department of Corrections for 10 years.
Unimaginable hurdle: Every day, Samuels wakes up and goes to bed with an overwhelming amount of pain. It is always at the forefront of her mind, and she doesn’t remember one day without pain for more than 20 years. “But I try to not let it get me down. I try to do as much living as I can.”
How she survived: Samuels has a loving husband, and they recently celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary. She is also lucky enough to have a very tight and supportive family who keeps her going during the toughest times. “I’m so grateful for my family. Having a good support system truly makes a difference. I also can’t not let it be said that my faith in Jesus Christ is the number one reason I survived. I’m only here because of his grace.”
Her motivator: Samuels is currently enrolled in a gene therapy trial at NIH. “The doctors at NIH are working hard to try to find a cure so that we can have a better quality of life. I’m so optimistic because I see the passion that they have for finding a cure. I believe that I will be cured, but even if I’m not, I know that I’m bringing them one step closer. They can learn from my case and tweak it to help the next person.”
Her dream: “I dream of a cure for myself and for every patient suffering from sickle cell disease. I dream of having at least one child. I dream of a day in the near future when I can wake up and not have any pain at all. That’s my dream.”