My Story: “Any Day Without Pain Is A Good Day!”

At 32 years young, Shakir Cannon is not only on the frontline of sickle cell disease research as someone living with SCD, but also as a dedicated advocate. As he puts it, he’s not a patient of health care but rather a partner in health care. In 2015, Cannon co-founded the Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine (MCPM) “to mitigate/eliminate health disparities of minorities by expanding the awareness and use of “Precision Medicine” to increase personal health and reduce individual and government expenses in providing crucial health care.” In February 2016, Cannon was among an elite group of individuals invited to the White House to participate in the White House Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Summit to find new, ‘precise’ ways of addressing health care research. 

Experiencing sickle cell disease personally, Cannon knows how important it is to be proactive when it comes to making changes in health care. Here, he shares with the realities of growing up with sickle cell disease as a young man and how he’s turned his pain into a powerful affirmation.

Shakir CannonAs I look back at my childhood, I realize I was very fortunate. I’ve heard many horror stories from others who have the same type of sickle cell disease that I have (Hemoglobin SS), who aren’t as lucky me. I mean, yes, I did have a stroke when I three (which led to years of physical therapy to aid in the strengthening of the right side of my body), but other than missing one day per month from school to get my monthly blood transfusions, one could say I led a normal life.