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  1. Why Diversifying the Blood Supply is So Important

    September 26, 2016 by Andrea
    Photo: Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Photo: Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    We've talked about blood donation a couple of times here at Xickle. Last week, we shared stories of Warriors who are alive today because of such donations, and last year, we brought attention to National Blood Donor Month. To close out Sickle Cell Awareness Month, we want to discuss another related area: the need for more diversity among blood donors. It's true, sickle cell can affect anyone, as we all have blood; however, it affects more African Americans than any other ethnic group. But according to tacklesicklecell.org, only 7.3% of all blood donations in the U.S. come from Black people.

    "Certain blood types are unique to specific racial and ethinc groups," says the Red Cross. "Therefore, it is essential that the donor diversity match the patient diversity. For example, U-negative and Duffy-negative blood types are unique to the African-American community. So, sickle cell patients with these blood types must rely on donors with matching blood types in the African-American community."

    Warriors rely on blood donations often -- transfusions are a common need. Thankfully, the Red Cross makes it super easy for people to designate their blood donation to a person with sickle cell. Here's how: Simply visit your local Red Cross center, give blood, and let the clinicians know that you want to participate in the Blue Tag program. Open only to the Black community, the Blue Tag program marks donations specifically for use in patients with sickle cell.

    Besides giving blood yourself, you can help increase diversity in the national blood supply by hosting a blood drive in your area or by creating a SleevesUp campaign to pledge your donation and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

    In order to  ensure that Warriors receiving blood are at lower risk of rejecting the donation and causing more complications, it is imperative that more Black people give blood. "Minority and diverse populations ... play a critical role in meeting the constant need for blood, " the Red Cross confirms.

    Have you ever donated or received blood? Share your story below!


  2. 5 Must-Read Motivational Books for Every Sickle Cell Warrior

    September 22, 2016 by Andrea
    Photo: stocksnap.io

    Photo: stocksnap.io

    While strength is characteristic of many sickle cell warriors, no one can be strong every single day. So, whenever you fell yourself drifting into worry, self-doubt, or depression during a crisis or just a bad day, reach for one of these reads: 

    1) The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
    This book shares the "source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love." -amazon.com 

    2) The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
    "In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness." -amazon.com

    3) Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain and Illness by Maureen Pratt
    "A devotional for anyone who lives with the spiritually challenging presence of chronic pain and illness. This book contains short chapters that include a Scripture verse, meditation, and prayer focused on one aspect of struggling with health issues, each of which is meant to encourage, inspire, and strengthen the reader's inner spirit and make his or her walk with God more joy- and peace-filled." -maureenpratt.com

    4) 365 Days of Positive Thinking by Jenny Kellett
    Chock-full of quotes, such as "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time" and "Nothing is impossible; the word itself says, 'I'm Possible!', this book provides empowering bites of motivation for each day of the year.

    5) Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Heather McNamara
    "Sure to become a favorite of readers who love Chicken Soup for its stories of overcoming life's obstacles, challenges, heartbreaks and pain, this book emphasizes triumph in the face of overwhelming odds." -chickensoup.com

  3. Giving Blood Helps: 4 Sickle Cell Warriors Share Their Stories

    September 15, 2016 by Andrea

    We all know how important it is to donate blood for sickle cell patients, but we don't always know the actual impact our donations have on the recipients' lives. In honor of donors, soon-to-be-donors, and warriors everywhere this Sickle Cell Awareness Month, we'd like to highlight a few stories from those whose lives have been made better through blood donation.

    1) Taytiana's Story

    2) Marquita's Story

    3) Stacey's Story

    4) Joshua's Story

    Do you have an experience to share about how blood donation has touched your life -- whether a donor or warrior? Tell us in the comments below!

  4. 5 Social Media Tools to Turn Your Sickle Cell Awareness Month Campaigns Up a Notch

    September 7, 2016 by Andrea
    Photo: CreateHer Stock

    Photo: CreateHer Stock

    As an advocate for sickle cell awareness, you already know the importance of being on social media. But, sending out a random tweet, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat post every now and then isn't going to help grow your follower count, and thus, spread your message. To help you determine the best tools for your chosen platform, we've rounded up a few of our favorites below:

    1) Buffer
    This easy-to-use website allows you to schedule posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in advance, freeing you up to actually interact with your followers, as well as devote more time to researching current news about sickle cell research. Buffer also provides analytics, so that you can easily see what types of posts perform the best.

    2) Later
    Formerly known as Latergramme, this website and phone app also lets you schedule posts ahead of time -- but only for Instagram. If you're mode of raising awareness centers primarily on visual content, this is a must-have.

    3) Mention
    Sure, you could continue to search Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for mentions of your name/nonprofit/company, but Mention makes this process so much easier. Simply sign-up and this tool will begin monitoring your name and will send you an e-mail round-up of online mentions each day. Knowing what others are saying about you -- good or bad -- gives you a chance to respond, and if necessary, rethink your messaging.

    4) Buzzsumo
    With this tool, you can set up alerts to keep you aware and up-to-date on the latest SCD news. You can then share this news with your audience, furthering more awareness. News can come in the form of infographics, articles, videos, and more.

    5) Quotes Cover
    Ever wonder how other people create those gorgeous quote pictures? Well, now you, too, can transform your favorite motivational quotes (perfect for #MondayMotivation), into beautiful, shareable content. If you're looking for easy ways to also edit photos and create collages, check out PicMonkey and Canva.

    Now that you're armed with these new tools, you can really take your sickle cell awareness to the next level.

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