Patient, advocate, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center
Her story: Beatrice Bowie was in her early 20s when she moved from her native Ghana to be with her older sister, who was a Ghanaian diplomat stationed in Washington, D.C. At the time Bowie had no clue that the writhing pain she had been experiencing all those years was sickle cell disease. But with a diagnosis at NIH came hope. Bowie got medical help, went to work, and managed a successful 20-year career in real estate—until a sickle cell crisis brought it to an end. But Bowie didn’t stop. She began volunteering for clinical trials at NIH in 2001 and eventually became an enthusiastic resource and advocate for scores of other SCD patients. Bowie says this kind of engagement is what’s given her the courage to face her own profound health challenges. And live.
Unimaginable hurdle: Complications from her disease ended the life of her days-old baby in 1980 and ultimately ended the career she loved. “I was devastated. Those were tough times.”
How she survived: By giving back. Bowie joined numerous advocacy organizations and boards, including the NIH Clinical Center Research Hospital Board; advocated on Capitol Hill; participated in multiple clinical trials; and for nearly 25 years has helped raise awareness about the disease and given others with SCD the support and inspiration they need to help them live fulfilling lives.
Her motivator: “When I wake up in the morning and realize I am breathing, I tell myself God has given me this day and I have to live my fullest. Instead of cursing the darkness and blaming anything and everything, I light a candle.”
Her dream: “To find a universal cure that helps everybody. Even if the current research doesn’t help me, if it helps the next generation, I will be so grateful.”