Jenica Leah, Founder of JLG Publishing
Specialising in publishing books written by young authors and that inspire young readers
At just six weeks old, I was diagnosed with a genetic condition called Sickle Cell Anemia (SCA). It affects haemoglobin in red blood cells – causing the cells to turn sickle-shaped and become sticky.
The new shape causes the cells to stick in blood vessels throughout my body – cutting off oxygen. When this occurs, it’s known as a ‘sickle cell crisis’ and can lead to all sorts of health-related complications.
SCA affects people differently. In my case, I’m in extreme pain on a daily basis. I can do things to manage it, such as drinking plenty of fluids and staying warm, but it was impossible for me to have a full-time job because it’s such an unforgiving condition. I once had a crisis in my lungs, which left me fighting for my life; another, near my brain, caused me to have a minor stroke. I may look fine on the outside, but it’s an invisible condition which can strike at any given time.
Getting plenty of rest and not overworking is vital, which is why I’m self-employed. In 2016, I wrote the children’s book ‘A Little Different’ as part of a planned series of books called ‘My Friend Jen’. Jen is a child with SCA and her stories will be based upon my own personal experience. My first book explains what Jen’s condition is, but offers a positive outlook on her life and explores what can be achieved.
A year later, I founded JLG Publishing with the intention of encouraging people to tell their own stories. As well as offering publishing packages, I also deliver my own six-step training programme to people aspiring to become self-published. To date, more than 15 authors have benefited from this programme, which makes me very proud because they have shared their personal journeys with a wider audience.
‘A Little Different’ was published through my own company and I’m delighted to say that on 5 March this year, a follow-up ‘My Friend Jen’ book – ‘The Check-Up’ – will be officially launched.
Living with SCA is a battle and I’ve always been told what I can’t do. I want everyone to prove themselves right – regardless of who they prove wrong in the process.