‘Small things to a giant’

Published 4:38 pm Thursday, May 4, 2023

When Nakiia Hampton came into this world, doctors performed tests as is familiar with all babies.

There, they made a discovery.

Hampton, soon to be 23, was found to have sickle cell disease, also commonly referred to as Sickle Cell Anemia.

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“She was diagnosed at six weeks old,” said Tameka Hampton, Nakiia’s mother.

However, as is evident from conversations, the young woman has not let it keep her down.

“This does not define me,” said Nakiia Hampton. “It’s here for the moment, but…I’m very strong. I can say that.”

The National Institutes of Health defines sickle cell disease as “a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that affect hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen through the body.”

While red blood cells are often found in a circular, donut-like shape, cells in a patient with sickle cell anemia may be more curved or banana-shaped.

Red blood cells can typically live in the body for approximately 120 days before needing to be replaced.

Yet red blood cells in individuals with sickle cell disease may die out after ten to 20 days, causing the body to lack oxygen and leading to symptoms such as fatigue, increased pain, infections, swelling of hands and feet, vision problems and more.

When she was young, Hampton began seeing medical professionals yearly for personal care.

Utilizing medications such as hydroxyurea and crizanlizumab, taken via infusion, has helped her manage symptoms.

Still, Hampton has faced challenges. She estimated that she has been to the hospital every two to three months for the past year.

Describing a few of her episodes, as she calls them, Hampton mentioned a particularly challenging scare in 2015.

“I started having this pain, literally, thirty minutes later, I crawled up to my mom screaming because I couldn’t walk,” she said. “It hurt to even crawl. She had to pick me up and carry me to the car.”

This previous September shortly after fighting off gallstones more complications arose.

“I couldn’t even stand up straight,” Hampton said. “I ended up having to have my gallbladder removed the next day, and then after that, I had some kind of chest pain every day.”

A few days later, a separate episode occurred.

“[It was] one of the worst days I’ve ever had and one of the longest days I have ever had,” Hampton said. “I couldn’t move, couldn’t walk, couldn’t even reach up…it [was] so unbearable, I wouldn’t even wish that on my worst enemy.”

And yet, Hampton has continued planning for her future through the ups and downs.

This year, she intends to attend school at Bluegrass Community-Technical College, focusing on studying business management.

“I’ve always said I wanted to open up a ‘chill spot’,” she said. “I want it to be [similar to] an arcade, and all types of things for adults and kids. I want to even start something like a clothing bin, so we can raise money. With that money, I can give back to kids [and] the sick.”

While looking to prioritize both her physical and mental well-being, Hampton has taken various actions.

Among them is journaling.

“Me writing sometimes helps…I’ve had my nurses come in and write on my board something positive,” Hampton said. “I’ve dealt with most of these doctors and nurses all my life. They take good care of me, and I really appreciate them.”

Medical staff are not the only community members providing support.

A Facebook post by a family friend, Patti Columbia, asking others to donate received over 200 shares with many willingly doing so.

Donations can be made to the Cash App at $Kiiaa20 or Paypal at @tamiiah22.

“I just want to thank the community for the overwhelming support that we’ve already received,” Tameka Hampton said. “This is a big learning experience for the community to try to learn something about it. [Many] people didn’t know anything about sickle cell [disease] until they met my daughter. I just believe it will be something to open up Clark County to other awarenesses whether it’s breast cancer, lung cancer, or sickle cell disease.”

As one of the oldest of five children, along with her twin sister, Tamiia, Hampton continues the fight with her siblings and family as inspiration.

“A saying that I say to myself every day is, ‘Small things to a giant,’” she said. “God said he gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors, and I am a warrior. That is me!”