Many of us think there is a book in us, but what pushed you to put pen to paper?

I had a book in me while I was in my mother’s womb. I could not imagine what my “book” would be or turn out to be. My parents never imagined their daughter would be diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the age of three – Rhabdomysarcoma, a vaginal cancer. Because of this disease and many surgeries that followed, I have two permanent ostomy (colostomy and urostomy) bags to aid my bladder and bowel functions. Imagine growing up with these adversities. Not knowing early in my life how to change and manage them would be the beginning of children teasing me; “I smell something”, “I heard she wears a bag.” Those remarks would push me to hide my secret by any means necessary. What would I do? How would I handle what life had dealt me? Through the years and several more surgeries, I had to find a way to escape, to relieve my burdens. I began to write in a journal; to express on paper and pen all I ever felt about my sickness, my insecurities, my struggles, my depression, my bags and life. What I wrote in my journal allowed me to realize that “life” happens. The more I wrote the more I learned I was not alone, the more I realized my life has a purpose. I am grateful for the struggles because it allowed me to discover the beauty in me from the inside out.

Was the “journey” of writing as rewarding as the end product?

The journey of writing was rewarding and very therapeutic. It was healing for me. It was discovering things about my life I did not understand. My siblings played a major part in explaining things about my sickness that I never knew. It was rewarding to know how I handled my sickness at a young age. I was strong even back then. The end product of my book puts me in a place of gratefulness. I am very thankful that God gave me a story to help those suffering with a sickness, low self-esteem, health issues, and those cancer survivors who beat the odds. No matter what the disease may be, we all have a “book” in us.

How are you changed by the experience?

I’ve been changed as a person, as a cancer survivor, a Christian woman, a daughter, a sister and a friend. This experience taught me that all things are possible. My life experiences or sickness did not dictate my future. This experience also taught me to believe in my dreams and aspirations. The only limitation is what we put on ourselves. I am a cancer survivor with two ostomy bags for the rest of my life; however, I was nominated one of Maryland’s top editorial and runway models. I know God can do all things, but fail. I am a fashion model, author, and writer, with a bright future on the horizon. I have gone through some struggles and will have some more along the way. I take my internal struggles and give them to God. My faith and belief in God make all the difference. I initially did not understand why things happened in my life the way they did. I came to understand, God was using me as an instrument to bring Him glory and to help someone else. There is no better feeling to know your story is destined to bring encouragement, inspiration, healing and joy.

What is the main message of the book?

Miracles still happen. I want readers to know that “life” happens, but we have the power inside us to survive. This book is relatable on all levels to all people. I want others to be inspired, encouraged, and know they are more than they have become no matter what the circumstance is. We are VICTORIOUS and not a victim. We can conquer and overcome.

What would you like the reader to walk away with?

I would like everyone to be aware of early health issues, especially with our children. My disease was detected early. Do not let any illness go without seeing a physician or doctor. Your life is precious and we all have a destiny to reach.

Jearlean Alston Taylor will sign copies of Pretty Girl Blues, 4-6:30 p.m., July 27, at Bethany Baptist Church, 4200 Townsend Ave., Brooklyn, Md. For more information


Jearlean Alston-Taylor

Special to the AFRO