Hello World I'm a Survivor
Many have wondered who is Tiana Sherell? I can be described as many things but I will sum it up in one word….SURVIVOR!
I grew up in a loving 2 parent household. My parents, both preachers instilled biblical principles in us as children. I can appreciate them now but as a child I hated it because it further isolated me from my peers.
Anyway….as a child I was very thin & slightly taller than most other girls so I was often referred to as Olive Oil. I was also told I wasn’t as pretty as my older more light skin cousins, so this caused me to develop a complex at an early age. So feeling awkward about my looks & not being able to fit in with my classmates because we had nothing in common caused major self esteem issues for me.
It’s funny how people say “oh she thinks she’s cute because she’s light skin with long curly hair” but that be so far from the truth. I only wanted to be accepted & treated just as pretty as my cousins. I tried hard to fit in with my classmates but they teased me & referred to me as a church girl. All of my nice clothes & pretty shoes couldn’t replace having friends. I soon figured out the art of making people laugh. I figured out certain phrases said a certain way combined with my unique facial expressions got people to laugh. I was finally accepted….so I thought. I had no idea my problems were just beginning.
On top of my insecurities about how I looked, I found myself being molested by a family member. I remember being so terrified by him as he would pin me down & kiss me & stick his hand in my panties with the other hand around my neck, promising to kill me if I ever told. This went on for so many years and me being so afraid to tell anyone. Even tho this was a traumatic experience for me, God would always allow someone to come & scare him off before he was able to penetrate me. Imagine what that did to a girl already dealing w/self esteem issues (the only person on earth that found me attractive was related to me. I felt like such a loser). He went to jail (for an unrelated crime) I was relieved.
My family moved to a new town as I approach my teenage years. I’m hoping for a fresh start. But same ole thing. The girls hated me because they thought I was prettier than them & I’m still feeling not pretty enough. I made a few friends & had even more enemies. Still trying hard to fit in w/my peers that had way more street smarts than me & more life experience than me. Most of the girls I was friends with started having sex in middle school. I on the other hand wouldn’t so again I was considered to be odd. In high school I found peer pressure to be a whole new ball game. It was like an Olympic sport for the guys to take your virginity. So I finally gave into peer pressure & lost my virginity to a guy I really didn’t like & guess what?! I got pregnant. I was scared & confused how it could happen to me the 1st time & my friends had been sexually active for years.
On August 31, 1993 I gave birth to my first child Rayshawn Michael. Here I am a scared insecure child being entrusted with the responsibility of caring for a baby all by myself. Despite what people told me “you’ll never be anything in life but a teenage mother, you’ll never graduate, you’ll have another baby within 2 years, no one will want you with a baby” blah blah blah. Well I overcame those odds & I graduated on time with my class w/honors. Well almost 5 years later I find myself a stastic again. I’m a single mother for the 2nd time. On May 17, 1998 I gave birth to my 2nd son Christian Javon. Now with even more curves than I had after my 1st child, I quickly learned that a cute face & a nice body could get me whatever I wanted. So I started dating all the wrong men & used them for what I wanted in exchange for a pretty smile & attitude. Being mean became a sport for me. It made me feel better abt my own insecurities. I looked great on the outside but I was hurting in the inside.
I worked hard to take care of my kids by myself. I’m thankful for my parents helping out when needed but I tried to do things in my own. I continued dating the best of the best drug dealers because I liked money. While I also worked & made my own money other peoples money just seemed to spend better.
Everything seemed to be going well (so I thought) until I started to get sick. I would have episodes where my stomach would swell and I would have pain in my lower back & abdomen. The Dr had no explanation of what was happening to me. By this time my dad was a Pastor & I started not going to church more often because I didn’t feel well not knowing it was in Satan’s plan to isolate me & make me more depressed than I was.
I wasn’t sure what was happening to me on the inside but it had began to manifest on the outside. I stopped singing (which had always been my outlet) I no longer enjoyed laughing, or when being a mom. Because I was so ill I was unable to work for 4 yrs but God always provided. I kept going to doctor after doctor, feeling more & more like the woman with the issue of blood but lacking her faith. Test after test and then oneday my life changed forever…..
My doctor scheduled me for an ultrasound, on my way to my appointment I stop to check my mail. In it is a letter from my doctor telling me I need to have a biopsy because they detected pre-cancer cells on my cervix. I was so scared. My mom told me not to worry, to pray, & have faith in God. She was right but at that moment I did not want to hear that. I go have my ultrasound (still teary eyed abt the letter I received) the Dr comes in and says he believes the growth on my right ovary is cancer & walks out. I’m really freaking out. My mom is still trying to talk to me about having faith. I have the biopsy done & it shows pre-cancer cells all over my cervix. Still afraid & in so much pain I really just wanted to die. So many days I wanted to kill myself. But God reminded me my children needed me & that he had given me an assignment & people were depending on me. So I began to write music which helped me make it thru each day. I began to keep a journal of my experiences each day.
I went in for my first surgery. I had 2 cysts about the size of a quarter in my right ovary. All seemed to be well until I went back for my 6 month check up. Some of the pre-cancer spots had cleared up except a few. So in Aug that same year I had to have surgery #2 to remove the pre-cancer cells. I continue on with life & a yr later I got sick again. Almost a yr to the day I had to go back in for surgery #3. The cysts had come back & I had to have my right ovary removed. So I think that fixed all my problems but 8-9 months later I get sick again. I had to have another biopsy this time it shows stage 4 cervical cancer. I didn’t really understand how serious it was. I didn’t tell anyone how sick I was because I didn’t want anyone to treat me like I was going to die. And honestly I was too scared to talk about it. So the day before my birthday I had to have a total hysterectomy. Even in that God was good because the cancer didn’t spread. I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. This yr I celebrated 7 yrs as a cancer survivor.
I still have faced many other obstacles & challenges but God brings me thru them all one at a time. After I did my live recording in 2008 I was asked to write an article about myself. I sat at my desk & I began to write not knowing what I was writing. When I had finished I read what I had written & I was astonished & embarrassed. We like everyone to think we have lived perfect lives. I didn’t want anyone to know me, the daughter of Pastor had been molested, had low self esteem, was a teenage mother, had considered suicide, & had cancer. I said God I can’t tell people that. He told me very clearly I couldn’t help others be healed if I wasn’t healed. That is how my healing process began. I began to see myself as God created me & began to live what his word says. Everyday is a journey everyday has it’s challenges but I am a SURVIVOR! I pray just this portion of my story encourages you & helps you understand you are a SURVIVOR & you were created with a purpose. Live out God’s purpose for your life. Xoxoxo