1.01.2009

Meet My Mother Mavis Jackson: "I Take It One Day at a Time"

Written by Jesse Muhammad

This blog is not being written to the tune of "Dear Momma" by Tupac Shakur playing in the background but this blog is being written to the tune of a harmonious jazzy love I have for my mother and she-ro: Ms. Mavis Jackson.

Throughout 2008, in just about every motivational talk I delivered, I got the attention of my audience quickly by giving them a little background about my upbringing.

Part of that story is how my mother went round for round with a drug addiction for years. I won't go into details here, but just know that she overcame it by God's Power and now she is a phenomenal Licensed Chemical Dependency and Anger Management Counselor. Helping others to overcome.

But in 2007, my mother was faced with yet another test. I watched as her hair started gradually falling out. My brothers and sister thought it was just stress from her job so we pleaded with her to let the job go and rest. But no matter how much rest she got it never stopped falling out.

It was tough for her to handle and all of us as well. She started wearing "Badu-style" head wraps and some times wigs. I personally could not handle looking at her head because I don't like to see my mother suffer. So any time she would show it to my siblings I would not look.

But one day, I walked in on her showing her head to someone, and for the first time I got a full glimpse of her condition...painful.....I went off into a room and shed a few tears. She doesn't know this and will find out for the first time when she reads this blog.

Then I realized that she needed all of us to support her in this, so I got myself together. She then decided to completely shave her head and rock the bald look. She researched what her condition is called and joined a support network.

So to those that have been concerned, my mother does not have cancer. She has an autoimmune disease called Alopecia Areata. It's a condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles "by mistake" and causes the hair to fall out. It's not hereditary.

"I had never really known anyone with it until I contracted it myself", she says. "The lows, the shock, the amazement was all part of my getting to the point of acceptance. After all, like India Arie says 'I am not my hair' and I can live life without it."

She immediately went online searching for and found the Alopecia Areata support community. Today she is an active member and communicates with other women with the disorder to share her experience, strength and hope.

"Some of us are blessed with more resilience to bounce back from life's unexpected surprises", she says. "It is our responsibility to be there for those who need a little extra love."

She is handling it wonderfully but the only bad thing now for her is we can see clearly where my second eldest brother Deric Muhammad got his head from!(smile)

This is my momma. This is why I am.

(Follow my mother's blog "One Day At A Time" at: msmavis.blogspot.com/)