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  1. 5 Meditation Apps to Add to Your Relaxation Repertoire

    September 28, 2015 by Andrea
    Photo: createHER Stock

    Photo: createHER Stock

    We all know that stress and anxiety aren't good for anyone -- add sickle cell into the mix and these things can lead to even worse occurrences, such as sickle cell crises, in turn causing more stress and anxiety. Curb that stressful cycle by considering starting the practice of meditation. The best part is, it's not as inaccessible as it may seem. Get started with one or more of these simple apps and find the best fit for you.

    1) Headspace. To begin, Headspace will give you 10 free 10-minute guided meditation sessions. This app, which bills itself as "your very own personal trainer, here to help train your mind," is available as a mobile app and for use on your computer. Check out this fun animation on how it all works.

    2) Relax Lite. An easy-to-use app, Relax Lite provides your choice of brief, deep-breathing exercises -- perfect for those hectic moments in the day where you just need a minute (or two). Additionally, you can opt for an eight-minute guided mediation session.

    3) Attitudes of Gratitude Journal. Meditation doesn't always have to involved guided practice. You can also simply retreat to an area of quiet solitude and reflect on your day, recording things and events that you're thankful for.

    4) Calm - Meditate, Sleep, Relax. Start off with the app's "7 Days of Calm" intro-to-meditation program, which includes guided sessions, relaxing background sounds and music tracks, as well as calming nature scenes. Calm.com is also the perfect breath of fresh air you need when your workday gets crazy. Just plug in your earphones, navigate to the site, and take a few minutes to enjoy the serene nature scenes and listen to the birds chirping and the water flowing. Think of it as a mini vacation at your desk.

    5) Oxizen - Meditation. Choose from a list of meditations that best fit your goals -- "Mindful Breathing," "Body Scan," and "Be Present," to name a few. Even if you feel like you never have time to spare for a "proper" meditation, this app can help you find your Zen in the most hectic of moments.

    Have you ever tried any of these apps? Is there another meditation app that you use? Tell us in the comments below!

  2. Put the “Fun” Back Into Your Fundraising for Sickle Cell

    September 23, 2015 by Andrea
    Photo: CreateHer Stock

    Photo: CreateHer Stock

    Yes, sickle cell is a very serious disease, and caregivers and patients often deal with anxiety about when the next crisis will arise, how they'll ever catch up on schoolwork missed for hospital visits, along with many other concerns. But, you can't let sickle cell control your life -- that's why we call SCD patients "warriors," after all. So, always make time to find instances to celebrate life and every good moment you have.

    One way to inject a little levity into the situation is through your fundraising efforts. Here are a couple of ideas from others that you can replicate in your own community:

    1) Go Bowling. Who doesn't love a little friendly competition? Take a page from Kiki Shepard's book and have a blast with friends, family, and other supporters on the lanes, while raising awareness and donations for the cause.

    2) Hold a Benefit Concert. Whether you want to highlight local acts or go big and call in  some celebrity reinforcements, you're sure to have a good turnout when there's music and dancing involved -- just look at how they did it Nashville, recently. Work with an event planner to help get the ball rolling, and give all proceeds from ticket sales to the sickle cell association of your choice.

    3) Fill the Bucket. Or boot, in this case. Challenge your community to sponsor a bucket, boot, or other item to fill and whichever team (or individual) who raises the most money in their bucket wins. You can honor the winners in any way you want -- a small gift, a shout out on social media, or a combination of both -- and then, turn over all of the funds raised to your local sickle cell foundation or a specific sickle cell family in need.

    4) Get All Dolled Up. Throw the perfect date night event -- and raise money for sickle cell -- by hosting a gala. Invite a headlining musician, speaker, or actor who will draw in a large audience and plan an amazing dinner meal for the guests. You can even easily make this event a double-whammy when it comes to fundraising by holding a silent auction at the event, as well. For inspo, check out how these people did it.

    5) Make a Date with Lady Luck. Game nights are always fun, so put a little spin on things and make it a casino night! Ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities for the event are great ways to raise money (check out how the McCourty Twins do it), and your guests will have a blast playing all of their casino favorites while giving back to the sickle cell community at the same time. Now, that's a real win-win.

    What other ideas do you have for putting the FUN back in to your fundraising for sickle cell? Share them in the comments below!

  3. University Student Develops New Sickle Cell Testing Device

    September 14, 2015 by Andrea
    Cell phone photo: CreateHER Stock

    Cell phone photo: CreateHER Stock

    There have been so many amazing contributions to the awareness of sickle cell disease this month and this week, we'd like to spotlight a recent post from Vanderbilt Hustler, the official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University. On September 12, this paper featured one of the school's current students named Kevin Cyr, and his newly developed device "that could revolutionize the diagnosis of sickle cell disease across the globe."

    How is Kevin's instrument different from others already out there? According to the article, Kevin's version is less expensive to produce -- it consists of a plastic casing with an enclosed test strip -- making it more feasible to produce in large quantities and therefore more easily accessible to all affected populations.

    "Although the device still needs some fine-tuning," the Vanderbilt Hustler reports, "Cyr has seen promising early results. Currently he boasts an accuracy rate of 92.8 percent." Read the full article here.

  4. How the Sickle Cell Community is Going Hard for Sickle Cell Awareness Month

    September 7, 2015 by Andrea

    It's week two of Sickle Cell Awareness Month and the community is on fire with activities and campaigns to bring education and understanding of SCD to the masses. Here's how some people are making the most of September:

    Tweet us pictures of you raising awareness this month and we'll retweet them!

  5. 3 Ways to Get More Involved in the Sickle Cell Community Right Now

    September 1, 2015 by Andrea

    Photo: CreateHER Stock

    As a sickle cell supporter -- or warrior, yourself -- you're always looking for new ways to get involved with the SCD community. Even if there aren't many (or any) support groups or other services where you live, you can still find ways to be active in the global sickle cell society.

    Here are three ideas to kick off sickle cell awareness month and increase your connection to this community at large:

    1. Scour social media. If you haven't already, create a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media account. Social media is where thousands of sickle cell warriors gather at all times of the day to meet each other, share their stories, and lend support.

    2. Binge on past episodes of WDC Radio. Each episode of WDC Radio features a new discussion on sickle cell-related topics, hosted by advocate, Farron Dozier, and new episodes air every Saturday at 4 p.m. PT. According to its YouTube description, "The goal of WDC Radio is to spread awareness of sickle cell disease and to better inform sickle cell patients, families, and doctors on how to best manage the disease." After watching, be sure to donate to the cause, as well, so this show can continue to do its good work.

    3. Start a blog. Or a vlog (video blog). Sharing your own journey living with sickle cell disease -- or caring for someone who does -- is another great way to connect with fellow warriors and caregivers. Consider discussions on how you deal with a pain crisis, how you celebrate the good days, how you stay positive, and other topics that the rest of the community can relate to. 

    Getting move involved with the SCD community will not only be therapeutic for you, but can also be a blessing to others. Which idea will you tackle first? 

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