Anne Welsh is an author, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She was born in Nigeria and emigrated to the United Kingdom when she was very young. She was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia at the age of four, and, after returning to live in her homeland while still a child, faced many of the problems that come with living with a life-threatening disease in a developing country.
Since returning to the UK in her late teens, and with the support of her family, Anne has created her own path to happiness through her academic studies and her career. After completing a degree in Accounting and Finance, Anne went on to achieve an MSc in Investment Management before starting her career in investment banking. She now runs her own consultancy firm, specialising in business development in difficult regions of the world.
Anne is a tireless advocate for sickle cell disease and her memoir, Pain-less, was borne of her determination to raise awareness about the impact invisible diseases such as sickle cell can have on individuals, and also to give support and advice to other sufferers and their families. Having frequently battled with depression, Anne is all too aware of the difficulties faced by sufferers of life-threatening illnesses. By writing this book, she hopes to help others improve their mental and physical wellbeing and enable them to achieve a joyful and fulfilling life.
Anne, can you tell us what is your inaugural book ‘Pain-Less’ about?
My first published book is ultimately a memoir which allows me to talk openly about my life across the early years in both the UK and Nigeria. It talks about my sickle cell anaemia, my difficult, traumatic adolescence and my battle with severe depression, which meant that I did not manage to finish school until I was 20 years old. In putting pen to paper my intention was to share some of the valuable and hard-won lessons I have learned. From ‘how to be mentally strong’ and learn to accept and be happy with your reality, to ‘advice on how to help children and adolescents as they struggle to come to terms with the daily realities of their condition’. I truly believe that ‘Pain-Less’ is proof of what can be achieved with love, support, and the courage to live the life you want, despite the almost insurmountable difficulties you face.
How did you get the inspiration to write a book about ‘finding joy amongst all the pain’?
Since I became an adult, I have felt it is my duty to raise awareness of the sickle cell condition. It is a testament to many dear friends that I have lost from the disease. The doctors told me I would only live until a certain age; that I would not be able to have children, get married or even finish my studies and I did it nevertheless. That’s why I want to inspire other people with the same or any other illness to find a silver lining despite all the adversity.
Why do you think it’s important for people to read this book?
Greater awareness of sickle cell anaemia will ultimately help many people that suffer from this crippling disease; through improved medical care and general attitudes to people with ‘invisible illnesses’. My wish is that by reading the book, it will play some small part in building confidence, so a better quality of life can be pursued, regardless of the source of the pain a person may be experiencing.
Who would you recommend this book to?
‘Pain-Less’ is not just a book for people suffering with sickle cell and their loved ones. This is a book for anyone who suffers from an ‘invisible illness’. This includes all those whose outward appearance disguises the struggles they go through every day. I share some of the valuable and hard-won lessons I have learned on how to cope with life.
What would be your advice to other people who have sickle cell anaemia?
Don’t give up on your aspiration to have a fulfilling life! Even though you have pain, you can find joy. The book is written to celebrate the happiness that I have been fortunate to have experienced. It details the actions that I took, and which may be applicable to others. In practical terms, it is about eating correctly, receiving medical care and about the importance of love from family and friends who will have to sacrifice much of their own lives to help you.