T-Boz Of Hit Group TLC Says Sickle Cell Disease Has Taught Her To Have Greater Appreciation Of Life
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins of the platinum-selling trio TLC has had Sickle Cell Anemia since she was a child. But, she doesn’t let herself get stressed out about having to deal with the genetic disease because she says that it has taught her the value of life.
“When you live with something like [sickle cell], it has to change your life and hopefully for the better,” the raspy-voiced vocalist told Monica Eng of the Chicago Tribune. “For me to survive period, I have to have a positive attitude. A 100 percent healthy person can get stressed out and break down and get sick. So if I already have a blood disease, I’m not going to be negative every day. I’m going to try to make the best of it.”
She says that as a child she was teased because of her thin frame and the special foods she had to eat because of the disease. In fact, it was the teasing she received as a youngster that inspired her to write the poem Unpretty that was turned into a song. The tune appears on TLC’s smash album Fan Mail.
“Ricki [Lake] was talking to women whose husbands abused them for being too fat, and I started thinking about all the kids who teased me because I had to drink baby milk for sickle cell and all the girls who called me skinny,” recalled T-Boz, who wrote the poem a little while after she was released from the hospital for a sickle cell crisis. “And I realized how much other people have made me feel ugly and like an outcast. I was so worried that people would say, ‘T-Boz looks messed up. She has bags. She’s shaking right now. She looks tired. She doesn’t fit the star thing. She could be a crack head.'”
TLC embarked on a recent tour, but, due to T-Boz’s illness, some of the shows were canceled. In addition to performing, T-Boz also is a spokesperson for the National Sickle Cell Disease Association.
The 29-year-old performer, who is reportedly engaged to Ice Cube’s protege, rapper Mack 10, says that she’s learned to deal with the disease better with age.
“When I was younger, I thought my disease was the worst. It’s not. People die every day. At least I have the advantage of getting up in the mornings OK most days. I’m just down certain months when there is a change in weather or something, but to me it’s just my life.
“So I’m like, ‘OK, everybody get used to me.’ I’m a little different, but that’s cool because God makes us all individuals for a reason, you know?”
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