A trying time for the Jackson State University family. Twenty-three year old Shawniece Wilmore, a senior scheduled to graduate in two days, died from a rare form of cancer that stems from sickle cell trait.
"Oh Shawniece. She was just so bubbly," said Kachelle Pratcher.
Wilmore lost her battle with a rare form of kidney cancer Tuesday.
"You never ever saw her frown," said Pratcher. "She had a beautiful smile."
She was a part of a tight knit sisterhood, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Her line sister Kachelle Pratcher says Shawniece was just days away from receiving her degree.
"She was going to graduate Friday. Her major was social work," said Pratcher.
The Raytown, Missouri native was born with sickle cell traits. Doctors broke the news to her in October that her body was shutting down.
"Having sickle cell traits, she was more vulnerable to Medullary kidney carcinoma, which is basically cancer of the kidneys," said Dee Bookert-Nixon.
Registered Nurse, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Cure Sickle Cell Foundation, Dee Bookert-Nixon, says there is a difference between sickle cell disease and sickle cell traits.
"If they just have the trait they should be asymptomatic which means you have no symptoms of the disease," added Nixon.
But if born with sickle cell disease, it affects every organ in your body.
"Sickle cell disease affects the red blood cells in the body," said Nixon. "They are rigid and hard and they tend to get stuck in the smaller blood vessels of the body and that is what causes the intense amount of pain."
Babies susceptible to sickle cell trait or disease are tested after birth. According to sickle cell disease research, one thousand babies are born with the disease each year in America.
"She really wanted awareness for this, so us just making sure that we spread awareness about this rare disease is what's going to bring us all together to keep her legacy living," said Pratcher.
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