Note: In 2013 Jearlean Taylor was awarded the 2013 awarded as Great Comebacks™ East Coast recipient (Rochester, NY) – 2014 awarded as Great Comeback™ National recipient (Nashville, TN) and here is the her story on the Great Comebacks™ website.
2013 Great Comebacks™ East Coast
Story of Triumph – “I am not my bags”
by Jearlean Taylor
I am Jearlean from Baltimore, MD. I grew up in happy home with both my parents with five other siblings. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love to laugh, joke, and live my life on purpose with a purpose. I am a fashion model, author, writer, modeling instructor, and motivational speaker. I am passionate about being the woman of God that he desires for me to be. My heart’s desire has always been to make a difference in people lives.
My life has proven to be a journey of unexpected challenges. I was diagnosed with a rare form of vaginal cancer (Rhabdomysarcoma) at 3 years old. Rhabdomysarcoma or RMS is a childhood cancer that starts in any organ that contains skeletal muscle cells, those most commonly tumors are found in head, neck, bladder, and vagina.
My parents discovered a problem, as I was outside playing and noticed flow of blood coming from my clothes. They ask if I had fallen or fell on something. From that point on, my life would be nothing short of a miracle. My disease was discovered at University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore, MD. After several consultations with doctors, my parents were advised to seek another opinion with other hospitals that specialized in my type of cancer. My chemotherapy and radiation treatments began at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, New York. Because of this rare type of cancer, my childhood included several reconstructive surgeries and lengthy hospital stays, which keep me miles away from home. I was cancer-free a year after my diagnosis, but left with permanent ostomy (colostomy and urostomy), which aids my bladder and bowel functions, which cause me to wear (2) ostomy bags. They are located on each side of my stomach, just at navel area. An ostomy refers to the surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes. An ostomy bag (pouch) attaches to the abdomen and is fitted over and around the stoma to collect the diverted output, either stool or urine. I spent the duration of my childhood up to 12 years old at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. After that my follow-visits would be back home in Baltimore.
The disease or treatments were not initially a problem for me however, what came after, my ostomy bags. I did the best I could with my situation being so young, but it still was not easy, especially when people do not know your situation or medical history. I remember kids teasing me, “she smells” “I heard she wears a bag”. During that period in my life, I was especially thankful to my family for their support. My mom always said I was in God hands. Later, I realize it was not anyone’s fault, life happened. In addition, through it all God was right there.
It was not until I was in my late 30’s I finally felt an internal change was coming. I was home feeling sorrow for myself because I just could not handle having another surgery. I remember tears falling like a river. I took one of my journal books and began to write. I began to write about everything I ever felt about my sickness with cancer and how I really felt about having ostomy bags all my life. That was my breakthrough of accepting me, as I was “bags” and all. That journal would become my internal healing and my first autobiography “Pretty Girl Blues”. My candidness and transparency will shock some, while inspiring and empowering others. The message I wanted to convey in my autobiography is that miracles still happen and our circumstances or situations does not have to dictate our future. Through my faith, caring doctors and nurses, support from family and friends, and belief in God, I discovered who I could be in spite of my medical circumstances. My insecurities did not change overnight, but I learned to be an “OVERCOMER”.
I am blessed to have my desires, passions, and dreams come true. I have been a fashion model for over 17 years, yes with two ostomy bags. Because of my passion for modeling and my reality of cancer, I decided to open a Christian centered modeling company, J & Company Christian Modeling. Our motto is “we build, train, and develop from the inside out”. In addition, I am founder of Osto Beauties. We are four women that have experienced different life altering medical conditions, which caused us be PERMANENTLY left with ostomies. We have been through rough times and still have challenges; however, we are stepping out our “comfort zone” in telling our story to help others.
Today I am helping cancer survivors, ostomy patients, fashion models, and those suffering with low self-esteem. I am NOT my “bags”. To see the outer appearance no one could ever tell I live with these adversities and what I deal with 24 hours/7 days a week. I am beautiful from the inside out. I am changing lives though my story. “Live your life on purpose with a purpose for a purpose.”
© 2016 Jearlean Taylor & Courage to Shine™
Excerpt of my story (“Pretty Girl Blues”) featured: Afro-American Newspaper, Fearless Magazine, Phoenix Magazine (featured on cover), Grace & Glory Magazine, Heart & Soul Magazine, Parle Magazine, Change Gospel Magazine, Essence Magazine, Mature Spiritually Magazine(featured on cover), BB Magazine, What’s Positive Magazine, Bridges Newsletter, Promoting Purpose Women Magazine, IMPACT Magazine, Up & Comin Magazine, Sheen Magazine
Appearances/Media: Good Day Baltimore, Baltimore City Community College, Authors Talk Live, In Focus (ABC News), Baltimore Fashion Week, The Turning Point, The Yes Show (California), Verizon’s Women’s Empowerment Conference, Convatec Plant (NC), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (cancer survivors day) NY. The Great Comebacks (NY, NC, TX), Baltimore Sun Paper (top models to watch), Tylenol (stories of strength essay winner)
- *Remarkable Woman of Year
- *The Great Comebacks™ organization, founded by Rolf Benirschke (former NFL player).
Contact Jearlean at: email@example.com
Please read Courage-to-Shine.org disclaimer!