At six weeks old I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell disorder, an inherited health condition that causes painful episodes (known as crises) which often require hospital admissions.
Being diagnosed at such a young age meant that I have always been very aware of my health, but living with a serious and lifelong condition is a challenging task. Combine this with pursuing a full-time legal career and it can seem like a near impossible task at times.
Crises during exam and coursework periods made studying a challenge, so it meant working twice as hard to achieve the grades I needed to secure a training contract.
As a less well-known condition, many people are unaware of Sickle Cell, so it can make for difficult or uncomfortable conversations and I would often shy away from health-related conversations. I realise now, however, that being open about a disability can have a hugely positive impact, particularly in terms of making adequate adjustments in the work place. It can also be a great way of raising awareness and understanding of certain health conditions.
Despite challenges with my health, I am thoroughly enjoying working as a trainee solicitor and all of the opportunities that come with it, many of which I would not have experienced had I not had Sickle Cell. I also now work with a number of charities and organisations to promote issues of social mobility and raise awareness of living with Sickle Cell. I used to think that my health was one of my biggest disadvantages, but in hindsight, it has probably been my biggest plus as it has shown me just how much I am capable of achieving.
Whitney currently works as a trainee solicitor at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and is due to qualify in August 2018. Outside of her day job, she works as a mentor for young people and students with Sickle Cell and related disorders at the Sickle Cell Society.