Tionne Watkins is better known to most as T-Boz, and a member of the former girl group TLC. Watkins has been extremely open about the fact that she lives with sickle cell anemia, but I was shocked to hear that she secretly battled a deadly brain tumor that led to a risky surgery.
Watkins discovered the grapefruit-size tumor in 2006 and faced the frustrating challenge of trying to find a doctor who would operate on her. Most doctors refused because of the complications her sickle cell anemia posed, namely lung and heart failure. The tumor was not cancerous, but it was tied to the vestibular nerve which affects balance, facial movements, and hearing.
To learn more about her condition, keep reading.
Watkins eventually found a doctor to work on her and embarked on a seven-hour surgery that left her without sight and unable to walk for months. In rehab she had to relearn basic things like how to walk, talk, and chew properly.
Today Watkins lives with migraines, facial twitches, and numbness, and has to fight with her face just to form a smile. "But if that's all? No problemo," she said. "I fight to be here daily because I want to see Chase [her daughter] get married and have kids. I want to party and laugh. I'm doing a solo album, and I want to tour. I have to see if I can do it. I'm still here. It will take way more to stop me."
In the media we often find out about a celebrity's illness years later. Besides Watkins, Cynthia Nixon and Steven Tyler are just a couple of the notables who have kept their illnesses a secret. Grappling with a health crisis is already stressful, and it's often hard to know when the right time is to share this information. Have any of you had to face this challenge? How did you handle it?