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Living with sickle cell - The story of Hajia Adiza Bala Faila

Wed, 7 Apr 2021 Source: Alhaji Iddi Muhayu-Deen

I met this lady seven years ago during my days and interactions in the enterprise of student leadership particularly the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) where I once served as General Secretary. We had since become good friends and indeed a family sharing so many things in common, ranging from politics to sports, to entertainment, and to religion.

I call her my junior mum because she bears the same name as my mum. Until a month or so ago when I visited her and she invited me to her book launch on March 27, 2021, which coincides with her 30th birthday, I never knew and would definitely not have believed anyone if I was told she was a sickle cell patient (Sickler) and had been battling this dreaded ailment all her life.

She herself informed me about her condition and added that this was what motivated her to share her life experience on paper, in the then yet to be launched book, titled *“Will my story inspire you? Striving to Success with Sicle Cell”.* Shocked? Of course, I was shocked and also dumbfounded, not because I didn’t believe her, but because the kind of life she lived was completely at variance with my uninformed expectations of a sickle cell carrier and for that matter Sickler.

She was super-active in all disciplines; she was lovely and lively; she was exhilarating and joyful; she was extremely intelligent in school winning many prizes; she was adventurous; she was interactive and enthusiastic; she was political; she was a go-getter; she was so committed to the Islamic faith like none other, and above all, she was that person that anybody would want to be with.

With this in mind, how could I ever have any basis to think that my junior mum, Hajia Adiza Bala Faila had been battling a life-long and life-threatening sickness? How could I believe that she was a sickle cell carrier? Just how? But, it is what it is, and we can only say, Almighty Allah knows best.

Yes, like every other sickle cell patient, she has also been falling sick, but she just wouldn’t allow her condition and the thought of imminent death to impede or obstruct her quest to enjoy life to the fullest.

Not even the fact that none of her direct siblings who were also sickle cell carriers or Sickler lived beyond 18 years. All three died before they got to 18. She is the only surviving Sickler in the immediate family. Not even the fact that her parents [as they themselves said at the book launch] had almost given up on her when her condition at many times was becoming more and more dire and precarious.

The result of the positive defiance of her condition (state of being) and determination to succeed in life is that today, not only has she turned 30 and yet strong and kicking, she has also become a successful career woman (CEO of the popular Shamfiz J Company Ltd and Founder of Shamfiz J Foundation).

She also works with a reputable government Agency even as she undertakes her masters programme in Public Relations at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). More significantly, Hajia Adiza is a happily married woman.

Lesson: What will kill you is not your condition (health or otherwise) but your acceptance of that condition as being your destiny, and that, which defines your life. The Adiza story has thought us that we have what it takes to overcome whatever conditions we find ourselves in. We should not be discouraged by our conditions. We can certainly defeat it before it defeats us. And our biggest weapon to defeating our condition is our MIND.

Columnist: Alhaji Iddi Muhayu-Deen