JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. The disease affects 100,000 Americans and for those living with the lifelong illness, it can be a rough battle.
For one Jackson County boy, it’s a battle he has fought his entire life.
Eleven-year-old Louis Gipson was diagnosed with sickle cell when he was just four weeks old. He and his mom are now sharing their journey with others to help bring awareness to the disease.
Louis’ mom Evonne Gipson said when she first got the news, it was a hard reality to accept.
“I cried. I called his daddy on the phone. I fussed with him. I cried," she said. “It was a lot to take in at that point and time, because he was just a baby."
Instead of having round, circular red blood cells, Louis' cells are shaped like a crescent moon or sickle, which are not good at carrying oxygen to all of the different parts of the body.
He has sickle cell anemia, the most severe form of the disease. And for Louis, that means a lot of doctor appointments and medical procedures.
“It’s a lot of tough. Like really, really, really tough." said Louis.
Louis also said the hardest part of battling sickle cell is the pain.
“My stomach be hurting like, it be hurting for like 24 hours," he said. “I get up at like 3 o’clock in the morning, take my medicine, go back to sleep, stomach still be hurting every day."
For his parents, it’s hard watching their son fight the disease.
“That was the scariest one was his stomach," said Louis' father Nick Pittman. “When he was bent over and couldn’t move and we had to call the ambulance to come and get him.”
But, Louis doesn’t fight this battle alone.
“He has a good support system, and most importantly, he has a good father, that’s just there to just listen." said his mother, Evonne.
“He’s strong, so he really doesn’t complain about too much or anything unless he sneaks and eats some snacks or something, and then his stomach starts hurting for real. Other than that, he’s a soldier.” said close family friend Tamika Coleman.
Louis' goal is to spread more awareness about sickle cell disease.
“I think more people need to know about it in the whole entire world about sickle cell," said Louis. “And you can fight through it and everything. All you got to do is keep working out and do what you got to do.”
Despite battling the disease, Louis keeps a positive attitude and he refuses to let it ruin his life.
“Just a normal kid, living my life, and get better." said Louis.
Louis' mom encouraged people to get tested for the sickle cell trait to know their status before having children. That’s because the sickle cell disease is inherited and can be passed down to childbren if both parents have the trait.
To learn more about the disease, visit the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America’s website by clicking HERE.