About Jacqueleen “Jackie” Yvette Prestage
by Karen Prestage
Webster defines warrior as: a person who fights in battles and is known for having courage and skill. Jackie Prestage, my loving and brave daughter is definitely a warrior, fighting against Sickle Cell Anemia.
Jackie was a beautiful baby girl, born December 6, 1986. In our eyes, she was perfect in every way. However, a month after bringing her home from the hospital, the phone rang. The call would change our family’s lives forever. On the other end of the line, a counselor from the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia calling to inform us that Jackie has Sickle Cell Anemia. At that moment, the life long fight would begin.
THE FIRST CRISIS
Jackie would have her first blood transfusion at nine months old to prepare her for surgery to repair her hernia. Going forward our lives would be spent learning about the painful disease as we would later spend countless hours maneuvering life’s challenges with a child diagnosed with a lifelong disease of the blood. Egleston Children’s Hospital at Emory in Atlanta, GA., became a second home. Jackie would have her first Sickle Cell pain crisis two days before her first birthday.
LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST
This was the beginning of so many Sickle Cell Pain Crisis, we have lost count over the years, yet Jackie continues to preserve. She fights hard to lead a normal life despite the painful challenges of the disease that can brought on by changes in the seasons, stress and other external situations. Now at 29 years old, we realize that the disease offers opportunities to overcome chatter from well-meaning naysayers.
Warriors lead. When Jackie decided she wanted to be a dancer, she began dance classes at three years old and continued her passion for ballet through her high school years. Hard work and sacrifice paid off and she was invited to dance in Atlanta Ballet’s premier holiday production of the “Nutcracker “for three consecutive years. Jackie was also on the dance team in high school. She still loves to dance, just another example of her warrior spirit and determination.
Jackie has accomplished things that so many told her she could not. While her achievements may appear small to some, her achievements are monumental for her. Jackie went on to graduate from high school on time and with honors, despite many painful hospital stays. College has been more of a challenge because of the rigid academic policies but Jackie has not been completely derailed; she is still determined to obtain a degree.
BLESSING OF A LIFETIME
One of the largest blessings of her lifetime has been the birth of her son, Jaleal. Once again she fought and survived one of life’s precious events that she was told would never happen for her. To be a mother, the ultimate achievement, to give life to another being, and raise a child from boy to man especially when your own health is full of challenges. The complexity of motherhood would give Jackie another opportunity to draw upon her strength. Jaleal is her life giving miracle and a constant source of laughter and joy. Jackie is surviving the painful disease of Sickle Cell Anemia, she bravely overcame the complications of childbirth, open-heart surgery and a near fatal stroke and yet she continues to fight the good fight. So if you want to see a true “Sickle Cell Warrior”, all you have to do is look into the face of my beautiful and loving daughter, Jacqueleen “Jackie” Prestage.