Survivor: More 2 Jay Bee
It is never easy to share a person’s story, especially when it is coupled with sadness. It gives me great pleasure to share stories that have sadness but end with an overwhelming feeling of joy mixed with tears of happiness. When I was given this woman’s biography to research, it was not easy to read at first as I wanted to jump into my computer and hug her. But as I came to the end, I was filled with a power that pushed me to look around and know that their is without a doubt a higher being that is paving our way.
JayBee is the woman to we are honoring today, overcame a great deal of medical difficulties and while treating her Hodgkin's Lymphoma for more than two years, never gave up on the life she wishes to have. With great strength and a fearless mentality we welcome JayBee as our Featured Female.
Interview by Jacquie Yo
Femwinism: Your story is rather amazing, tell us, what were your aspirations and goals before arriving at 23 years old?
JayBee: Before turning 23, I really wanted to be a mother and wife. I felt like having a kid and being someone’s love was the most important thing in the world . While it is something that is still important to me, I now see that being my own woman and having something for my child to hold onto after I leave this earth is important as well. Being a wife and being in love will always be something that I believe in, but if I’m honest, I feel like it may never happen for me. Living in Los Angeles and having the type of career that I want makes it hard for a strong black woman to receive the type of love that they are yearning for and willing to give. Only God knows.
F: After realizing your diagnosis, I can only imagine the strength you had to pull together to make a force of undeniable stability for yourself and I am sure the ones whom were around you to say "No, this I will overcome" was empowering. In your bio, you spoke about loss. For you, what was the biggest loss during this healing transition?
JB: The biggest loss during my healing transition wasn’t the loss of a person or even the loss of my hair, the biggest loss was of my insecurities about being who I am. Most people look at the negative losses but I choose to look at the positive. This entire situation has been about choices. I could choose to be upset that the person I love wasn’t there anymore, I could choose to be upset about friends leaving my side and I could choose to be upset about looking like a different person without my hair and weight loss. But I could also choose to fear not and lean on God instead. I could’ve lost hope but I chose happiness.
F: Was there a point where you were hard on yourself? If so, what happened? How did you overcome?
JB: I was really hard on myself during my stem cell transplant at City of Hope in Duarte, California. I knew I was going to be admitted for at least a month and I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t be able to stay there that long. I had a lot of setbacks during that stay and I blamed myself for not producing enough stem cells or not getting enough blood. None of these things were in my control. It helped to talk to my physical therapist after losing feeling in my left arm. I realized that the situation was only temporary and being hard on myself would last longer than what I was currently going through. I really hated being alone because it left me with my thoughts; so having friends and family coming to visit me helped me to overcome.
F: Overcoming! Your body took to all of the treatments and was resilient. What were your first thoughts?
JB: My first thoughts were that I would be able to be cancer free within six months that was the initial time frame of chemotherapy. However my first round of chemotherapy did not take and I was forced to take three more types of chemo finally ending with a stem cell transplant. I was very distraught when on my cancer was gone and then the next week I had larger lymph nodes. Going from six months to two years of treatment really took a toll on my psyche but I remain resilient because I knew that somehow I was going to make it through. Again, I chose to look at the positive. I wasn’t dead yet.
F: Let’s speed it up a bit, unless you have another amazing incident that brought you here? But first, where did you get this Queendom mindset?
JB: I have always been a strong black woman. I’ve never been one to bite my tongue but I wouldn’t call myself blunt. I really have nothing but women around me and in my family, so it wasn’t hard to adopt the queen mindset. I’ve always been a leader and whenever man would try to overstep, I would overdo them. It’s been natural.
F: Did you develop a mantra to get through the tough times? If so how did / do they affect life now?
JB: I have several mantras that I repeat to myself over and over again until I actually start to believe it. I can’t lie and say that I don’t wrestle with insecurities from time to time because I am human. I’ve become vulnerable when it comes to comparison and I often find myself trying my best not to compare what I have to what I don’t. I don’t know if you would consider prayer a mantra but I definitely say some of the same things in my prayers so that God knows I’m not kidding. I tried to be specific and I pray without ceasing. It really helps me to see that how I feel can change with a simple thought. Confidence is another thing that I struggle with. I know that I’m unique and special so it becomes hard to think that I’ll fit in with others knowing this so I claim confidence over myself all the time even when I’m not. Even if I don’t feel it inside, I make sure I show it on the outside.
F: In four years you have accomplished more than most, tell us about Survivor Studies? Survivors Slay Dance and your open mic experiences?
JB: Survivor Studies is my way of giving back and showing people that they can really do whatever they put their mind too no matter the circumstance. I go to different middle schools and high schools and let students, teachers and faculty know that cancer is not a death sentence and that life is meant to be lived.
I started Survivor Slay Dance in my head during my hospital stay at City of Hope. I was watching an episode of Ellen deGeneres's talk show where she had Michelle Obama talk about her “Let’s Move” campaign for the United States. I was at a really unhealthy point in life and sitting in a hospital bed wondering how I could become a better me and help others around me at the same time. I felt like Michelle Obama really influenced me to start the Survivor Slay class to better myself and to stay active. In all of my classes I have my students tell me about their day and what they survived. It could be as simple as surviving waking up in the morning or a traffic accident. Either way I empower them to physically move their bodies and face their fears.
My love child, the Compton Open Mic is the most fun thing that I do. I started the project with the help of Mayor Aja Brown in Compton, and it has been going strong since July 2017. Vendors, artists, dancers and singers of all walks of life come to Compton and shut the city down for about three hours. There is so much community, love and fellowship that happens at the Compton open mic. It has really become an event that the people look forward to. I feel like a vet hosting has been one of my most valued talents and I hope to take it to the next level.
F: What can we expect from you in 2018, rather what other areas of life will be proudly visited by your presence?
JB: I really wish I knew. I continue to put out content and make myself known and pray that my phone rings. I would really like to headline a major artists tour. It will be cool to bring Beyoncé to the stage or any big touring acts. That’s the kind of hosting I want to do. I’ve started a hashtag called #getJayBeeOnTV to bring awareness to my broadcast journalism background and hopefully become the next Oprah. I would love to have my face on the cover of Essence Magazine and on my own survivor studio where I can build my brand and help others to build theirs as well.
F: In one word what does Femwinism mean to you?
To follow JayBee and her incredible endeavors, check out her site www.more2jaybee.com and do not forget to share her hashtag #getJayBeeOnTV when sharing any of her hosting events.