Julian Cann uses writing and similar activities to relieve stress and deal with the pain of sickle cell disease.
He’s a young, up-and-coming rapper who performs and lays tracks using the moniker, Jules King.
As a child, Cann had countless complications arising from sickle cell disease — complications that landed him in the hospital four, five, or more times a year.
He couldn’t go swimming without ending up in the hospital. He couldn’t get too hot or too cold.
“The heat of the summer put me in the hospital every year,” remembers Cann.
Just about anything other kids did for fun resulted in another visit to the dreaded facility.
“My mom, as a single woman, had to work and couldn’t always be with me at my frequent hospital visits when I was a kid,” he says.
“Sometimes all I had to get me through those hospital days was a pen and a pad of paper. That’s where my writing began to take hold and become my creative outlet — an escape from the pain of sickle cell disease and loneliness when my mom couldn’t be with me.”
Looking back, Cann sees that his family was there for him all the time. Even when they couldn’t visit him in the hospital, they did the best they could.
“It was really hard for them to see me go through all that agony as a child. They suffered with me.”
He says this familial support is critical to anyone dealing with the ravages of a hemoglobinopathy like sickle cell.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to cope with the pain better than I could as a kid. Staying active with work and my music doesn’t leave me much time to dwell on the pain.”
He went on to say that he can count, on one or two hands, the number of times he’s been to the hospital in the past four or five years.
That’s a considerable improvement from his childhood experience of five or more hospitalizations each year.
“I began to realize the value of my writing when I was in high school, nearing adulthood. When I write something that people like, it really gives me a boost.
“Sometimes I think the shock value of my lyrics helps people understand some of what I’m dealing with. I’m using my music to represent the people who have sickle cell and to educate others about it.”
He raps about a variety of topics, including sickle cell disease.
Cann hopes to become more involved in building public awareness of sickle cell and other inherited blood disorders as his popularity as an artist grows. Keep your eye on this rising star.
Learn about the many ways you — like Julian Cann — can help Ryan Clark's Cure League educate the public and build awareness for sickle cell disease.