Julian Cann spent a lot of time in the hospital as a child and young adult because of sickle cell disease. The inherited blood disorder gave him episodes of pain, plus other health complications like pneumonia.
Julian eventually decided enough was enough. He started researching ways to more effectively control his disease, and he changed his lifestyle around.
Today, Julian fully embraces healthy living: Instead of eating fried food and drinking pop, he goes with salads and water. He works out regularly. And although sickle cell problems still come up from time to time, they happen much less often.
“I feel being healthy (is about) living a healthy lifestyle, eating right, not smoking and drinking excessively, doing things in moderation, working out, having people around you that support you, and just getting energy, good vibes, good thinking,” Julian says. “And it can go your own way because I’m living testimony of that.”
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Because of the complications of sickle cell disease, Julian couldn’t play sports. He also can’t be out in the cold or go swimming. So he channeled his pain into a different outlet – music – by becoming a rapper.
“I think any way you could express yourself is all therapeutic, whether it’s art, whether it’s writing, whether it’s poetry,” he says.
Julian works for the Children’s Sickle Cell Foundation, working with kids and spreading awareness about the disease. He hopes to see it one day go away entirely.
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“I’ve changed my life tremendously over the last 10 years, and I’ve just been seeing benefits from it,” Julian says.
A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.