“Cai’s ABCs of Sickle Cell” Shares Comfort and Education about Sickle Cell from Child’s Point of View

Learning About the Disease

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in the United States over 100,000 people are affected by Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). The disease is a type of red blood cell disorder that turns the regular disc-shaped red blood cell into one shaped into a sickle shape. This causes a series of side effects that are part of the lifelong disease.

Although it is present across many communities, Black communities in the United States are especially affected by SCD, with one in 13 people carrying the trait, and one in every 365 babies being born with the disease.

In the past, bone marrow transplants were the only known cure, but in 2023, the Food and Drug Administration approved two more treatments to help prolong and improve the quality of life for those affected. One adds a specific gene in the body and the other alters genes already present to help relieve side effects of the disease.

Teaching Through Experience

Cai Stoudemire is just like any other kid from Milwaukee. She goes to school and enjoys playing outside and sports. Recently the 10-year-old has been on a mission to educate and comfort other children battling SCD just like her. With the help of her mother, Richon Badger, the pair wrote “Cai’s ABCs of Sickle Cell”. 

The book is written from Stoudemire’s point of view and depicts her journey through treatments and living everyday life with disease through colorful and detailed illustrations by Barderies Hampton. 

“It was cool seeing the animations in the book and the ideas they had to put it together and make the book,” said Stoudemire. “I was happy and grateful that we were making a book for people to understand Sickle Cell.” 

Cai and her mother Richon during her book signing and reading to those who attended. (Photo by Richon Badger)
Cai and her mother Richon during her book signing and reading to those who attended. (Photo by Richon Badger)

The book has sold over 300 copies and has been shipped to several states across the nation. On June 9, 2024, Stoudemire celebrated the success of the book with family and friends with a book signing, complete with a live reading. 

“It was fun. Some of my school friends came, some of my cousins, a lot of family and friends,” said Stoudemire. “I have never read a book in front of people of people but it went well.” 

The book was officially released in February of 2024.

Advocates Off the Pages

Stoudemire’s journey to becoming an author is only one part of her and her mother’s passion for advocacy for the recognition of the disease. Before coming up with the idea to write a book, Stoudemire has had a social media presence, bringing awareness to SCD, and giving out positive affirmations for those who come across her pages. 

“We started making videos on social media first bringing awareness to sickle cell and we do these things called ‘Wednesday Affirmations with Cai’,” said Badger. “So she just says affirmations to help uplift those with sickle cell and the community as a whole.”

To purchase the book click here.

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