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Sickle Cell Anemia and Osteosarcoma

On June 23rd, I wrote a blog about Hip-Hop artist Prodigy from the Hip-Hop Duo Mobb Deep who unexpectedly passed away at the age of 42 years old from complications from sickle cell anemia.

This disease is a blood disorder that is inherited, and babies are born with sickle cell when they inherit two abnormal genes (one from each parent). These genes cause the body’s red blood cells to change shape, and when blood can’t get to where it is needed, the body’s blood tissues and organs don’t have the oxygen they need to stay healthy.

Periods of pain are commonly referred to as a crisis. People with sickle cell anemia might have times where they feel severe pain in their chest, stomach, arms, legs, or other parts of the body. This happens because sickle cells block blood flow through the small blood vessels in those areas.

I never experienced sickle cell, but I did have a knee cancer called osteosarcoma in my right knee as a teenager at 14 years old, and when the cancer came back, I had to get my right leg amputated at 17 years old.

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer, and accounts for 3% of cancer that happens in children. It is one of the few cancers that begin in the bones and can spread elsewhere, like to the lungs or other bones. This cancer usually affects teens who experience a growth spurt, boys are most likely to have this cancer more than girls and in most cases, this cancer involves the knee.

The most common symptoms of osteosarcoma are pain and swelling in the leg or arm. Pain may be worse during exercise or at night, and a lump or swelling may form in the affected area up to several weeks after the pain starts. Pain that often wakes the child up at night are of particular concern.

With osteosarcoma of the leg, a child also may develop an unexplained limp. In some cases, the first sign of the disease is a broken arm or leg, which happens because the cancer has weakened the bone and made it vulnerable to a break.

My favorite song from Prodigy as a solo artist is “You Can Never Feel My Pain.” Within the song, he goes in-depth about his experience with sickle cell. I identified with some of the things Prodigy was talking about within his song.

For instance, Prodigy said, “Don’t talk to me about can I feel yours, cause I ain’t feeling you at all, your pain isn’t pure. You crying cause you broke from the projects, that’s not pain, that’s emotions. I’m talking about permanent, physical suffering.”

“You know nothing about that, you just complain cause you stressed, my pain’s in the flesh, and through the years that pain became my friend; sedated with Morphine as a little kid, I built a tolerance for drugs, addicted to the medicine.”

“Begging God for help, only to find that I’m all by myself. You could never feel my pain.”

Those lines took me back to how I felt when I first got my leg amputated and was forced to experience phantom pain. After my surgery, the phantom pain made me feel like my leg was still there.

Although my leg was not there, the nerve endings continued to send tingling, cramping, heat and cold pain signals to my brain and made me feel like my leg was still there. This experience was the most difficult for me to deal with because I had my right leg my whole life, then after a few hours of surgery, my leg was gone forever.

Unfortunately, the phantom pain is permanent because I still experience it from time-to time, but it is not as severe as when I first experienced it at 17 years old. With Prodigy though, the pain never eased up for him every time he experienced a sickle cell crisis.

From Prodigy’s autobiography, “My Infamous Life.” While in grade school, he felt a sickle cell crisis approaching and began to walk slowly towards the school bus because any fast movements would make his bones and chest ache. He explained the kids on the bus were looking at him like he was crazy, but he didn’t care what they thought because he was going through pain that they would never have to experience in life.

Prodigy is from New York, and he said he hated when the seasons changed because it would affect his sickle cell condition when it got cold. My phantom pain is also more present when it gets cold, and like Prodigy, the pain could occur at any time.

Prodigy was forced to deal with sickle cell at three months old, and I had to deal with osteosarcoma at 14 and 17 years old, along with getting my right leg amputated.

There are many side effect differences between sickle cell and osteosarcoma, but there are also some similarities that Prodigy and myself had to go through while dealing with our illnesses. For example, we experienced unexpected pain during the cold seasons throughout the year, and permanent, physical suffering.

Prodigy and I found strength within ourselves to deal with the pain, but at the same time still able to move forward in life.

“Experience life through the shoes of me. What you find is you can’t do that, you ain’t built for it. The impact I put on this earth, it’s like nothing you ever seen or heard.”

- Prodigy, You Can Never Feel My Pain, H.N.I.C

R.I.P Prodigy from Mobb Deep

* To check out Prodigy’s “You Can Never Feel My Pain,” click here:

* To check out my experience of becoming a hip amputee and dealing phantom pain, click here:

* To check out my blog about my reaction to Prodigy unexpectedly passing away, click here:

* Update: On Aug. 3rd, it was been confirmed from the coroner that Prodigy died from accidential choking.


I don’t own any content from the sources listed below. No Copyright Intended. All content is copyright to their respective owners.

Prodigy My Infamous Life Audiobook courtesy of Audiobook Prodigy Full from

Prodigy “You Can Never Feel My Pain” song courtesy of ShamrockHipHop from

Prodigy image courtesy of

Mobb Deep logo courtesy of

ALLCAPSification. ALLCAPSification’s Top 50 Favorite Rappers (Vol. 1): #25-21. Digital image. Genius, nd. Web. 22 June 2017.

Fullfledgerecordpool. The Infamous Mobb Deep. Digital image. Photobucket , n.d. Web. 22 June 2017.

Genius. Prodigy of Mobb Deep – You Can Never Feel My Pain. July 12, 2017.

Hip-Hop Health- Prodigy (Sickle Cell). Hip-Hop Health- Prodigy (Sickle Cell). July 12, 2017.

KidsHealth. October. 2015. Sickle Cell Disease. July 12, 2017.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Phantom Pain." Mayo Clinic ., 03 Dec. 2014. Web. 12 July. 2017.

Prodigy - You Could Never Feel My Pain. Dir. ShamrockHipHop. Perf. Prodigy. YouTube., 05 Mar. 2009. Web. 13 July 2017.

Sandler, E. S., MD. "Childhood Cancer: Osteosarcoma ." Kidshealth, Jan. 2017. Web. 12 July 2017.

WebMD. What Is Phantom Limb Pain? July 12, 2017.

YouTube. Prodigy My Infamous Life Audiobook Part 01of28. February 10, 2015. July 12, 2017.

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