Ms. Toyin Adesola popularly known as Aunty Toyin is a 50 year old Sickle Cell Anaemia survivor. We call her a survivor because you don’t find women like her every day. She is also the executive director of the Sickle Cell Advocacy & Management Initiative; an NGO targeted at improving the lives of Sickle Cell patients in Nigeria. She is the author of the book Still Standing where she describes her experiences as a sickle cell survivor.

Aunty Toyin is an extraordinary woman with a beautiful soul, she is a deaconess, baker, writer and also an advocate for change, one can only wonder where she gets her strength from considering her “condition”.

SustyVibes reached out to her to share her story of survival, impact and the motivation to keep going even in a sick body.

Read below the story of our woman unCrushed – Aunty Toyin Adesola

When I was about four years old, I noticed there was something unusual about my life, I was always being admitted into hospital. It was not until I was about seven/eight years that I really knew that I had a problem. I constantly had to be rushed to the hospital, always had an IV line running through my veins, and was not able to do lots of other things my peers did. It was the most depressing and frustrating time of my life – coming to the realization that I had a condition called sickle cell anaemia.

I had my education disrupted on many occasions due to my condition. My parents were literate professionals doing very well in their field, so you can imagine how much of an enthusiast they were about education. It worried me so much that I or they could not help my situation, I often listened to music and wrote in my journals just to remain sane and focused. They helped me through what I called “my years of pain”.

In hindsight, though they were physical years of pain, those pains made me stronger to make the woman that I am today. I am particularly grateful for the life that I am now living. This statement may shock people when compared to other lives of people. I truly have cause to thank God. There are so many people who have not gone through half of what I have and yet have not been able to put their foot prints in the sands of time in the little ways that I have done. I have been able to make a message out of my mess and a testimony through my test. I am a testimony not stemmed from self pity but of a woman who has lived, conquered and impacted.

My organization – Sickle Cell Advocacy & Management Initiative (SAMI) came after the release of my book Still Standing and appearance from the then Funmi Iyanda Show, feedbacks from the book and my appearance showed people were facing more issues living with sickle cell than I thought.  I noticed we had not begun to scratch the surface on sickle cell in Nigeria, there was still a lot of ignorance and mismanagement on the issue; so S.A.M.I was born out of a need to educate, advocate and create more awareness on Sickle Cell Disorder for improved treatment plans and attentive support where possible.

The journey so far has been very challenging as we are faced with limited financial support to run the organization; families still face the same challenges they faced many years ago, victims are still stigmatised, medically mismanaged and neglected. Regardless, I still go about telling my story, spreading the issues of Sickle Cell Anaemia Disorder and inspiring people to look beyond their circumstances and go ahead and achieve their dreams. Though I am limited physically, I have a very energetic and dogged spirit, my love for God and determination has strengthened me to what I am today. Indeed, despite 200+ hospital admissions, 20+ transfusions and 5 operations, I can say 50 years and some more, I am Still Standing and that I am a woman unCrushed.

Women unCrushed was formed to tell stories for African women who have lived through the thoughest of situations and are still living, Every month, (on a wednesday) moving forward, we would be bringing you one woman who has refused to remain crushed down by pressures of life and hope that her story brings strength and encouragement to someone who might need an inspiring story to get through their day.