A Fixer, who was diagnosed with sickle cell disease (SCD) at the age of three, wants to dispel some of the mystery surrounding the condition.
Her story was shown on ITV Granada Reports on Thursday 6th March.
Twenty-four-year-old Sanah Shaikh from Old Trafford is on daily medication to manage the often unbearable pain associated with the genetic blood disorder.
The disease causes red blood cells to become sickle or crescent shaped – triggering attacks of acute pain known as a crisis.
Because SCD doesn’t present any obvious external symptoms, Sanah feels many people are unable to understand what those with the condition experience.
‘Sometimes I feel excruciating pain, usually in my chest or my back,’ she says.
‘It tends to feel like someone’s hammering down on me or sawing through my body. When it’s really bad I need to go straight in to A&E.
‘I can feel quite small when people dismiss the fact that I have sickle cell.
'It’s paramount that I get this message out so other people suffering don’t feel alone and know they can talk about their illness.’
In the broadcast item, Sanah meets Rugby League player Ade Adebisi, who speaks about his own experiences with SCD.
‘On a game day I’m as good as anyone, but when I was younger, some of the older players would think when I said I’ve got sickle cell that it was an excuse and that I was just being lazy,’ Ade explains.
‘It was pretty difficult as a young kid. You just wish they could understand what you’re going through, but mental toughness made me carry on.’
With the help of Fixers, Sanah is making a short film to educate more people about the disease.
In support of her campaign is Marilyn Burton, Specialist Haemoglobinopathy Nurse Counsellor, who also appears in the broadcast.
‘It’s very important for people to be understanding because the condition itself is so unpredictable,’ she says.
‘Any way in which it can be highlighted is fantastic.'