Author Judy Gray Johnson Helps to Kick off Black History Month with Book Signing

Judy GRay Johnson, author of the memoir Living With Sickle Cell Disease: The Struggle to Survive, will read from and sign copies of her book during an event from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the Sankofa Video, Books, and Café in Washington, D.C. She also will take questions from attendees.

Judy's book chronicles how she lived her life - from a poverty-stricken childhood in southwestern Virginia to a successful career as a public educator - while struggling with the blood-borne illness known as sickle cell disease. She wrote the book to educate the public about the insidious, debilitating nature of the condition. Judy also intends for the book to be a primer to medical personnel who are faced with treating sickle cell disease patients while in the throes of a painful "crisis."

"People have to understand that this is a disease that we have no control over. We were born this way, and we have every right to be treated with dignity and respect," Judy said during a recent interview with The Philadelphia Tribune. "There are too many doctors that don't feel comfortable in treating sickle cell patients. They don't know how to deal with pain."

Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders and affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. The condition is marked by red blood cells becoming hard and sticky and resembling a C-shaped farm tool called a sickle, meaning the cells take on a crescent shape. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they can become stuck and clog the blood flow, which causes sickle cell patients to have painful episodes called crises, which can last from hours to days. These crises can cause pain all over the body.

Living With Sickle Cell Disease: The Struggle to Survive has garnered positive reviews thus far.

"Who should read Living with Sickle Cell Disease?" wrote blogger Priscilla King in her review. "Anybody who's likely to meet a person who has the disease. That would mean anybody living in North or South America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, India, or Australia."

Judy's memoir is also listed among "Books to Ring in the New Year," by Richard Prince, who writes a popular online column, Journal-isms, about racial and ethnic diversity in the media for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

Living With Sickle Cell Disease is on sale at Sankofa, located at 2714 Georgia Avenue NW in Washington and adjacent to Howard University. The phone number is 202-332-1084. Living With Sickle Cell Disease is also available in hard cover, paperback and E-book versions through her website,

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