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Kinley Johnson

Rashawn Hendrix


From Pain Crises to Good Vibes


Before he was a patient at St. Jude, Rashawn Hendrix experienced something far too common among patients with sickle cell disease: pain not taken seriously. “At the hospitals I used to go to, it’s like they would think I’m not really sick,” said Hendrix, who has experienced regular sickle cell pain crises. “I would get a longer wait time when I was sick. Even though I was there earlier, others would go through [the emergency room] before me.”

“It seems like [doctors and nurses] didn’t take me seriously when I was having pain,” Rashawn continued. “I always felt left out because they were treating other people better than me.”

Since coming to St. Jude, Hendrix’s situation has changed. The physicians and nurses not only take his disease seriously but also care about him as a person.

“At St. Jude, they always give me a lot of good positivity and vibes,” Hendrix explained. “They care, and they smile.”

In previous experiences, Hendrix was challenged to prove the extent to which his illness affected him. At St. Jude, he has a care team that is trained to help patients with sickle cell disease. They understand the diseases’ nuances and major manifestations. When he is experiencing a pain crisis, they know how to care for him. They also know each patient is more than their disease.

“They talk to me — and listen — and all that kind of stuff,” Hendrix said.

In charge of that care team is Tarun Aurora, MD, a clinical fellow who is also currently pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation degree at the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences to better design strong and effective clinical trials for sickle cell disease. That’s not why Hendrix likes him so much, however. He appreciates that they are truly a part of each other’s lives.

“Dr. Aurora really cares about me because of all that he’s doing for me,” Hendrix said. The two have grown close over the years, as part of each other’s lives as more than just patient and doctor — they are friends. Aurora has shared intimate moments with the Hendrix family, too. “When his father died, he came to see me, and we talked about it.”

Hendrix continues as a St. Jude patient, cared for as both patient and person by Aurora and the Hematology team. For any other clinicians caring for patients with sickle cell or other diseases, Hendrix has his own advice, beyond understanding treatments, based on the holistic care from his St. Jude team.

“They should smile, and show they care,” he said. “Talk to us, listen to us. My doctor, Dr. Aurora, made me really feel that he has a lot of love and respect for me. They should be training people for that, too.”


Visit the Together by St. Jude™ online resource to find information and support for families facing childhood cancer and other illnesses. 


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