Senior Jasmynn Vang finds ways to prevail through Sickle Cell Disease
STORY BY KRISTI CORTEZ – EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
She was never like most children her age. Even though she was active and energetic, liked soccer and couldn’t stay away from mischief—something made her a little different from the rest. Senior Jasmynn Vang was born with Sickle-cell disease or Sickle-cell anemia.
Sickle-cell disease is a disease of the blood that causes cells to not contain enough oxygen. Instead of having full blood cells, Vang’s make more of a sickle or crescent moon shape—thus the name, sickle cell. Due to the lack of oxygen, SCD suffers such as Vang tend to experience shortness of breath caused from excessive physical activity, which puts them at more risk to pass out.
Because of this, Vang, who had always wanted to play soccer, could never play. She would constantly run out of breath from running—or basically just being a kid with her friends.
“I had always known I was born with Sickle-cell,” Vang said. “But when I was a kid, I didn’t really understand it. I just knew that I would get really tired really quickly, and I would have to take breaks a lot.”
Despite the fact that Vang had to pace herself in order to live a normal life, she has been very fortunate to have beaten the odds of Sickle-cell. Typically, most with SCD have a shorter life expectancy, but Vang has managed to maintain a very healthy lifestyle and has surpassed many people who have become victims of SCD.
At age 5, Vang was told by her doctors that she would probably only live to be about 16.
“I was sitting in the room when they told my mom,” Vang said. “I didn’t understand it at the time.
“I have a cousin who had Sickle-cell. He died when he was 8,” Vang said. “So I am very thankful that I have been able to take my medicine and gotten better. I hardly even notice my SCD anymore.”
Although Vang was not always allowed to play the sports she wanted to, she has found physical activities that don’t put her at too much risk. In her freshman and sophomore years, Vang cheered for the Cheer team on campus. She is also in her third year of dance class and danced for the Varsity Dance team this year.
“Cheer and dance have been great for me because they’re just enough for me to be involved in, but not too much to make me pass out,” Vang said. “I still get tired in dance, but I can usually find time to take a break and put my hands on my knees to catch my breath.”
Vang has not allowed her SCD to scare her or make her afraid of living life to the fullest. In fact, it is very apparent to all who watch her dance that Vang is not at all concerned with conserving her energy as she puts an animated face on and pumps up the crowd on the sidelines at a football game.
“The only thing that scares me is when I get sick,” Vang said. “People with Sickle-cell aren’t supposed to get to over a 101-degree fever. If we do, then we have to go to the hospital.”
However, Vang is confident that her friends and family will always be there to take care of her if anything unfortunate were to happen.
“My friends don’t really treat me any differently,” Vang said. “I tell them about my disease, but I don’t want them to worry about me. My mom has also always taken care of me so I really appreciate her for that.”
“Jasmine handles her Sickle Cell really well,” good friend senior Sharron Garcia said. “She’s very humble about it and doesn’t like to be pitied. She’s a really strong person.”
“I never notice Jasmine’s disease,” senior Ann Dang said. “She’s still her goofy self and she works hard everyday. It’s not a handicap fir her she just lives life like a normal kid.”
Vang has managed to make the best out of a situation that could have taken over her life.
“I try to just live life and not hold back,” Vang said. “I’m not cured, but I’ve become better.”