CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Would you d rop everything to make sure your sick child got the treatment they need to get well? One woman did just that for her young son who suffers from what's sometimes called a silent disease: sickle cell anemia.
She says her son's bout led them to cure and most recently a surprise right here in Charlotte.
As he sat dressed head-to-toe in his cowboy get-up, it was heartbreaking to hear 10-year-old Joseph Sanford describe what it's like living with sickle cell anemia.
"Sometimes it will feel like a stampede of elephants is just running over you. Sometimes it'll feel like someone is cutting you open with a chainsaw," says Joseph.
His mom, Clarissa, witnesses it all.
"Constant pain. Over and over crying out to Jesus, crying out to me, crying out to his dad to please help him. It's very hard," says Clarissa wiping away tears.
Those painful symptoms due to blood-clots is what led them to leave their home state of Louisiana, and eventually live at the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. Clarissa learned about a Charlotte doctor who said he was having success curing children like Joseph with sickle cell through a special stem cell transplant.
"He told me that he would do everything he can to help cure our son. And I told him to give me three months and we would move to North Carolina....and we did," says Clarissa.
Joseph had his CD3 stem cell transplant in May. By now they're already seeing a difference
"The aches and pains we would constantly ask him: does it feel like sickle cell pain? And he would say no mom it doesn't," Clarissa recalls. "I have some pain but it's not sickle cell pain. It's totally different."
"I want to be a professional bull rider when I grow up," says Joseph.
While his body is healing, Joseph doesn't realize he's going to get to forget about the years of suffering...even for just a moment. Two days after our interview, Joseph got to meet his bull-riding hero in Charlotte - superstar J.B. Mauney. Their smiles in the pictures of them spending time together speak for themselves.
"He never gives up," says Joseph describing Mauney. "He always tries. He tries his best even when he's hurt he tries his best."
Between this moment and the road to being cured from sickle cell, Joseph says he feels like a brand new person.
"We waited a long time to hear that," says Clarissa relieved.
Joseph's surprise meeting with J.B. Mauney was made possible through Dream On 3.
Another highlight from that weekend, Joseph got to see his father who had to stay back in Louisiana to work while Joseph was getting treatment here.