For Nazhi Forrest, having a Sickle Cell Crisis can only be described as the single most painful sensation she’s ever experienced. As her oxygen levels drop, it becomes hard to breathe. Pinpricks of pain become sharp, stabbing sensations across her whole body.
Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. When they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.
And though she struggles with the symptoms of Sickle Cell every day, still she bakes. She started baking as a way to create a healthy lifestyle for their family when they had to stop eating processed food for the Sickle Cell diet. It wasn't just Nazhi who lived with the disease, but her two sisters as well. Nazhi then created her organization, Nazhi Thee Baker Angel Foundation, which raised funds to deliver hundreds of sweet care packages to hospitalized children.
Today, Nazhi’s sister, Shakarra is in crisis. Earlier this month, the 19-year-old suffered her third stroke. It was during that most recent hospitalization that she was diagnosed with Moyamoya Syndrome, which causes cerebral hemorrhagic strokes and aneurysms. This is a rare condition which her medical team in South Florida has been at a loss on how to manage. Shakarra needs specialized care out of state to fix a hole in her heart and blood vessels at the base of her brain.
Nazhi and Shakarra’s parents, Natasha and Ricky, are doing their best to keep life as normal and happy for the family as possible at home for all four of their children. However, due to the care that Shakarra now needs, they’re finding themselves stretched beyond their already heroic limits.
It’s their hope that once Shakarra is finally able to get the surgery and care required—that the entire family will be able to be with her, without the financial burden that is sure to follow.
With all of the efforts Nazhi, her family, and her foundation have put forth for the Sickle Cell and rare disease community, they’re now in need of support as well. With the current economic climate shaped by COVID, we can all experience how devastating an unexpected illness can be. For this family, the request for donations does not come lightly. That’s why Brandstar Cares is reaching out on their behalf, to share their story and inspire others to give what they can—whatever it might be, even if it’s just sharing the link to this page.