About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
GOOD Worldwide Inc. publishing
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

28-year-old sickle cell survivor fulfills lifelong dream of becoming a doctor to help others like her

Having lived with the condition for almost all her life, she knew the powerful impact a doctor can have on someone's life.

28-year-old sickle cell survivor fulfills lifelong dream of becoming a doctor to help others like her
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Musonda Mwilwa

The new year brought with it an incredibly special gift for Musonda Mwilwa. The 28-year-old got to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor on January 30 this year as she took the sacred Hippocratic Oath—an oath of ethics historically taken by physicians—alongside 30 of her peers. She was no longer the little girl who was constantly sick and in pain. Today, she is a doctor. A doctor who strives to help other sickle cell patients and improve their lives for the better. Today, she is a shining example of perseverance and strength.


Speaking to the Times of Zambia, Mwilwa said, "I have always wished to be a medical doctor even after I was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia when I was nine months old." Having lived with the condition for almost all her life, she knew the powerful impact a doctor can have on someone's life. The condition which affects the red blood cells and various organs in the human body due to a lack of hemoglobin in the blood left her with a burning passion to study medicine and become a doctor herself. Despite a physically and emotionally draining childhood, Mwilwa rose above every hurdle, with her mother Joyce Musonda's constant support.


While in her final year in med school, Mwilwa penned a powerful blog post recounting her childhood and explaining how it motivated her to become a doctor. I was diagnosed with sickle cell when I was nine-months-old... As a child, I remember being constantly sick, in pain, and was given injections very often. Those are the images that have remained imprinted on my mind, being hospitalized and being in pain. At one point I nearly died because at that time I had malaria. With this myth that we do not suffer from Malaria, no one checked for it, instead, I was treated for every other infection, she wrote.


Although she ultimately received treatment for malaria and recovered from it, Mwilwa revealed that she was limited as a child since couldn't exert herself as much as her peers. I did not play as much as others did. If I overdid it, I would end up being in pain, sometimes hospitalized. Sickle cell pain took away my childhood. I feel I had to mature earlier than most because I learned to pace myself, to know what was good or bad for me to avoid crisis and hospitalization, she wrote.


To make matters worse, Mwilwa also had to face constant negativity from those around her who believed myths suggesting that people with sickle cell do not fully grow up and that they die early. I hated being called "the sick child" by my mum’s friends to the extent of telling my mother to tell her friends not to call me that. I had become a teenager and resented anything about sickle cell. I am still struggling with a lot of pain and being in school with all the stress has not helped, Mwilwa revealed.


Although she feared that her condition would make it impossible for her to complete med school, Mwilwa pushed through the pain and gave it her all. I am passionate about helping people with sickle cell as well as other blood conditions because these are conditions that are neglected. They are considered not important. I am an advocate and I want to be a voice for many who suffer from these conditions. I want to change the perspective of people who call us addicts or pretenders. People look at my body size and think I can't have sickle cell as if there is a specific body type for sickle cell. Especially for older patients. I feel we struggle the most, she wrote.


"Despite people displaying their negative attitude, I never allowed this negative mindset to stop my ambition of becoming a doctor one day," the newly inducted doctor told Times of Zambia. Born in 1991 to Joyce Musonda and Kangwa Mwilwa, she credits her mother for helping her become who she is today. Musonda has been her constant source of comfort through every episode of pain and hospitalization, assuring her that her future was bright and extraordinary. Today, her daughter is a medical wonder.


More Stories on Scoop