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Meet Natasha: Filmmaker, Musician, Survivor, Warrior

Posted Jan 05 2013 2:39am
Written by Sickle Cell Warrior on 04 January 2013

tash1Natasha is a determine, artistic, creative, spirited young lady, who has been through so much in her life. She has never given up and always found a way to get up even though the going was hard. She never has given up. There is so much to learn from her and I’m sure you will be inspired by this interview.

Hi my name is Natasha and I’m 27 years old living with Sickle Cell Beta Thalassemia.  I was 8 years old when I first went into crisis and was diagnosed with sickle cell SS. School for me wasn’t a challenge until I decided in HS I wanted to run track, I was always the fastest in my class and I always wanted to join the track team. I had a few track meets with no problem, until one day at practice after warming up I fainted and the ambulance was called. Doctors told me no more running and I was already too embarrassed to return to the team, I agreed with their decision.

My family influenced my career by supporting me in whatever I wanted to do. My initial plan entering college was to become a Pediatrician because I loved kids so much. My grades were always fine throughout HS, so I went into college thinking it would be a breeze. Oh how wrong was I! Due to high levels of stress in college I started getting crises more and more, so I had to change my major. My advisor at the time convinced me to pick a major that I was passionate about, not just because I think that’s what I have to do. So I chose music psychology. I played clarinet since the age of 7 and also learned to play the piano on my own. Music was always an escape for me, so graduated College with a BA in Music Psychology.

I was already working as a permanent substitute teacher at an inner city school, and I grew comfortable with that job, and attached to the kids so much so that I really didn’t want to leave. So I continued working as a Sub while attempted to attend Graduate school.

During my first semester  of Grad School, I was admitted during winter season, and while in the hospital I was raped by someone I knew that attended my church. That sent me into a deep depression because not only did he get away with it, but he still attends the church. I left the church after feeling ostracized and told it was my fault. Anyone with sickle cell knows while in the hospital, especially your first night of admission your pretty much sedated. My sickle cell started to take a huge toll on my life at the time, so much so that I had to drop out of graduate school. I stayed home pretty much for the whole year of 2009, pretty much writing and watching movies.

In 2010 I decided I didn’t want to live a depressed life and went back to school to become a filmmaker. I was so excited about being back in school and doing something I was passionate about once again I excelled at that. I wrote and directed a couple short films and one of my films one a couple festivals. So this is where I am today. Working now on my first feature film and taking care of myself physically and mentally. My family and close friends are my strength through this ordeal. My parents have been by my side since day one and they are the driving force behind who I am today.

I experience pain almost every day of my life but I have pain levels of 5-10 around my menstrual cycle, which may or may not lead to hospital admission. Music and writing films keep me motivated. My daily medications are 1mg Folic Acid, 60mg OxyContin 2x daily, and Morphine 30mg as needed for pain. Having sickle cell has affected my personal life drastically. Only my BFF and family really understand the disease and know the things I can and cannot handle. While others think I’m always flaking on them purposefully or that I’m too lazy and never want to do anything. I gets frustrating at times.

I am in a relationship right now, and he does understand to an extent. He’s Jewish, and he hasn’t really come face to face with disease in the past. I’m basically what he has to learn from. He’s very caring and compassionate, understands I need to rest and drink plenty of fluids. After our 1st date he actually went home and did his own little research on the disease, what he read somehow scared him, so I had to kind of calm him down from worrying too much. Anyone I intend on dating, knows about my illness on the 1st date, I waste no time because this is a part of who I am, you can take it or leave it.

If I could talk to my 14 year old self I would tell her live life to the fullest. Doctors can only tell you what they’ve learned in a book, you have the disease so take life by its horns and ride it to end. Don’t let people tell you how you should live your life, do what makes you happy. That’s the same advice I give to other warriors, you have sickle cell, don’t let it have you. The sky is the limit, and right now I’m living out my dream and so can you.

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