Dear Rickey Smiley,

My son Dylan was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at 5 weeks old. Sickle Cell Anemia is an incurable blood disorder that causes pain when sickle shaped red blood cells are trapped in blood vessels. I remember our first doctors appointment where the hematologist taught me how to check my newborns spleen to see if it was enlarged and how to assess whether my 5 week old had suffered a stroke.Both enlarged spleens and strokes are common in patients with Sickle Cell Anemia.

I also remember at 5 months Dylan was hospitalized with a fever. By the time we left the hospital his hands were so swollen and in pain he refused to let anyone touch them or hold his bottle. His sickled red bloodcells were trapped in the tiny blood vessels in his 5 month old hands.

Over his short 5 year old lifespan he’s been in the hospital numerous times some times for weeks at a time. One of the most devastating stays was a painful crisis that rendered him unable to walk when he was 2 yrs old. During this stay he cried out in excruciating pain while I tried to hold it together and decide whether morphine was the best choice for my 2 yr olds 20 pound body.

Did you find any humor in the 3 experiences I just mentioned? Was there any thing funny about witnessing a baby in pain? While reading did you think this is great comedic material? Dylan hasn’t even experienced half of what some other Sickle Cell Warriors have experienced at his age. Some have already had multiple blood transfusions, spleen removal, strokes and other Sickle Cell related complications before the age of 5. Life expectancy for women with Sickle Cell Anemia is 48 and for men with Sickle Cell is 42 yrs old. http://scinfo.org/2018/01/11/sickle-cell-news-for-january-2018/

It was extremely irresponsible for you to list Sickle Cell in the list of fake ailments in your church obituary skit. Your platform is huge and includes many Sickle Cell Warriors? their friends family and loved ones. None of them found this to be funny. In fact if you read the numerous comments on your page and on YouTube you will see how hurtful this joke was to your fans. It was unnecessary for you to include Sickle Cell Anemia in your skit. Its hurtful that this life threatening and life shortening disease is not even taken seriously in our own community.

In December 2018 the government finally decided to take Sickle Cell Disease seriously by approving the law that will increase funding, research and treatment options for the Sickle Cell community

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/bipartisan-bill-aimed-fight-sickle-cell-disease-signed-law-trump-n949691 (

Sickle Cell Anemia primarily affects the black community , your target audience. You will never find a comedian joking about Tay-Sachs or Cystic Fibrosis which are rare diseases that affect a very specific population. These diseases affect less people in the US yet they receive more funding and resources than Sickle Cell Anemia.

Everything is not meant to be a joke or taken lightly. Please consider using your platform to provide more awareness around Sickle Cell Anemia so that others will take our warriors seriously as well. Often are warriors are treated poorly by the medical community who assume they are drug addicts when they come in complaining of pain. Sickle Cell Warriors need the support of their community without being the butt of a poorly thought out joke.

Update – The YouTube video of the segment has been removed thankfully.

Published by Geneva Marie

Geneva is a mom of 3 boys, a college freshman, a 4 and a 5yr old. After her middle son was diagnosed with Sickle Cell anemia she became obsessed with finding natural ways to keep him healthy. Geneva is a Holistic Health and Wellness speaker and Sickle Cell Advocate. She hopes to share more knowledge around the disease to Educators and the community at large. Geneva is also a 2011 NYC marathon finisher and enjoys traveling to destinations with amazing beaches.

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16 Comments

  1. Agreed!!! I am the mother of 3 Sickle Cell Warriors (triplets) and to witness the pain that my children have experienced from age 2 months til the age of 15, has been devestating. Sickle Cell is not a joke, it’s excruciating pain that not even the strongest medicine can touch. Just imagine if your child, your baby had to deal with this type of illness. Smh 🤦🏾‍♀️

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  2. I wholeheartedly agree with this…I was greatly outraged by what I heard and the laughter was very hurtful. I i am a SS warrior who is hospitalized 3-4 time a a year from this disease and the treatment of this disease is as unjust as the laughter that accompanied your joke

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  3. I live with Sickle Cell Anemia and it is not a joke. I be in severe pain daily. Try living with Sickle Cell Anemia before you joke. It’s not a laughing matter.

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  4. Exactly. Well said. I am the mother of a daughter of sickle cell who was diagnosed at birth. And to read this article that apparently Rickey Smile has mentioned some things about people with sickle cell is devastating to me. Sickle cell is a deadly disease just as much as cancer. No one knows what we as parents and as warriors goes through on a daily basis. I suggest you do your research on the disease before you start talking about it and this is to anyone I mean anyone I don’t care who you are. SICKLE CELL IS REAL IT’S NOT A GAME. WE NEED TO BRING MORE AWARENESS TO THIS DISEASE NOW USE YOUR PLATFORM FOR THAT.

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  5. Mr. Smile-Less, I was unaware of your senseless comment until now . How unfortunate someone with your platform would be that uneducated of such a disease that affects the black community. Maybe before you decide to joke about something you will take the time to research it before you open your mouth and insert foot.

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  6. Just a random thought as a Warrior, I really don’t Think that Our Very own Communities having No real knowledge of What we as Warriors, Parents or Family members and Friends have to endure suffering with the Feeling of Helplessness while Love One’s are going thru these Horrific Crisis’s. Especially with so many still suffering in the Shadows and the Stigma attached to Sickle Cell Disease. The more Awareness and Knowledge that we are able to get out into Our Communities and The World as A Whole. Then The Better Strides The Sickle Cell Population Will Be!!! Just My Random Thoughts….

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  7. Thank you for this letter. I believe it’s ignorance on Rickey’s part hence these comments. It’s sad that in order to make folks laugh, he joked about such a serious subject. Use your platform to help better the lives of Sickle Cell patients instead of making light of what they face on a daily basis. Insensitive!

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  8. Last year a mother sadly told of her 8 month old’s death. I would like to see the statement that he made. And maybe he not only will apologize to the sickle cell community but raise funds for scholarships etc.

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  9. I have sickle cell and I’m the only one in my family. I have been through so much these past years. Countless infections, blood transfusions, surgies and for him to joke about it really upsets me cause he could of used his platform to bring awareness instead you making a mockery of it. I’m through

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  10. I am a mother a 5 year old boy with SS …. in and out of hospitals, blood transfusions, he had osteomyelitis and had to have his bone removed from his leg and learn how to walk again. The list goes on and on … But I pray to God everyday for him and other just like him. Thank you for your story #shared #survivor

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  11. Some how this was one of the mornings that I missed his show and this must be the reason. I’m a sc warrior and i have a 5month pregnant daughter who was just realeased from a 7 day stay in which there is really not much you can do but watch your child in tears from pain and cant do nothing. Hurts but what is even worst I myself had to go the ER because of a crisis in head that is damaging a nerve in my face that has my eye swollen. I could be facing a new pain for the rest of my life, and for someone to think it’s fun or funny it breaks my heart. Is it funny if I didnt have the money for a simple prescription to ease daily pain? Put yourself in our shoes this is a daily battle. I be up in the morning to start my day off with a couple laughs with you and the morning crew, now I don’t know what to do. 😞

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    1. I too experience some of what happened to you over 32 years ago, my daughter has sickle cell anemia was pregnant with my first grand child. Once was hospitalized with crisis in her head. My grandson weighed less than 5 pounds stayed in hospital almost 2 weeks. He has the trait, so does my other 2 grandchildren and me too. The sad thing about Smiley’s joke is he may have relatives with the trait and or the disease, 1 out of 12 have the trait. He is black and from a state that babies probably were not tested. I suggest write, email, text or call in his radio show. And I think he has a tv show on TVOne, have he do a segment on sickle cell and start a scholarship program for those with sickle cell disease and trait.

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  12. I’m 42 yrs old living with Sickle Cell (SS). I have twin boys 22yrs old and has SICKLE CELL too. My husband also have Sickle Cell and I don’t see ANYTHING funny about this disease we are battling everyday, night, morning, & through out our lives. If any thing he wants to talk or joke about joke about how he got shot by the store. No that hurted him cause when he aired it on his tv show I could remember he was crying while telling it to his lawyer. So if he want to find out about our lives get in touch with us and we can educate him and his employees. Better yet come and visit some of us that are in the hospital suffering with that pain and see if we are FAKING!!!! But that’s too right for him to take time out of his day and come out see how we are living. Some of us on 10 different meds or even less. So before making jokes find out about this MONSTER we are dealing with.

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  13. Yes Im a mother of 2 children with SS (SICKLE CELL DISEASE) I HAVE SAME STORY. BUT MY SON HAS HAD BRAIN SURGERY, SPLEEN REMOVE, STONES REMOVED AND HAS HAD SEVERAL TIA’S. AND SEVERAL STROKES. MY DAUGHTER ALSO HAS HAD OVER 5 STROKES AND BRAIN SURGERY PLUS 2 BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT. I CAN GO ON BUT WE WILL BE HERE ALL DAY. BUT THROUGH IT ALL GOD IS A HEALER. HOPEFULLY AFTER ALL THIS YOU WILL STUDY TO SYMPATHIZE WITH US. MUCH LOVE AND PRAYER.

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  14. Now this just hurt my heart. I’m 31 with type SS, the severe type of Sickle Cell and my youngest son has type SC. Who are you to make a joke about it? You don’t live with pain daily, or have to take 10 to 15 pills a day. You don’t have to go to sleep every night wondering if you will wake up the next day or if you will be stuck in bed all day. As I’m writing this I’m crying because I just lost someone to sickle cell today and I’m in pain. But you want to make jokes. This disease is not funny at all. You wouldn’t be able to live in my shoes for more than 5 minutes sweetie. Now joke about that.

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