'I had a stroke at 33 and my blood is replaced every month': Riding out the harsh realities of sickle cell disease

Refusing to let the health jeopardy of a serious blood condition hold her back, Sonia Chane-Sam found support and succour in cycling

Cyclist Sonia Chane-Sam, who has sickle cell disease
(Image credit: Daniel Gould)

"I have a massively addictive personality,” confesses Sonia Chane-Sam, speaking to me via laptop from her living room in Southwark, south London, when I ask how she first got serious about cycling. “I was already doing lots of gym-going, plus a bit of running, and I was really into spinning.” 

Her gym obsession was brought to an abrupt halt in 2014 when, aged just 33, she suffered a stroke and was urged by doctors to ease off the throttle. “I was told to quit smoking, live as healthily as possible and avoid stress,” recalls the 40-year-old. “As a single mum working and studying, I’d just finished my accounting diploma but had to drop my uni plans.” 

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David Bradford
Features editor

David Bradford is features editor of Cycling Weekly (print edition). He has been writing and editing professionally for more than 15 years, and has published work in national newspapers and magazines including the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the Irish Times, Vice.com and Runner’s World. Alongside his love of cycling, David is a long-distance runner with a marathon PB of two hours 28 minutes. Having been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2006, he also writes about sight loss and hosts the podcast Ways of Not Seeing.